Final Project Draft
Article’s URL: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/satellites-find-less-groundwater-left/
Storage of groundwater, one of the main sources of water worldwide, in the major aquifers appear to be measured not enough precisely. A set of two studies found that methods used up till now for evaluating the total storage of groundwater in world’s largest basins do not possess sufficient precision and are too rough and uncertain for future use. One of the researches, carried by Jay Famiglietti and his fellow researchers, used NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites to measure the gravitational pull of water masses. They estimated total groundwater stocks in major groundwater basins and the dynamics of their depletion and renewal. The study found that 13 out of the world’s 37 main aquifers are being depleted. The most stressed ones are Arabian Aquifer System, Indus Basin, Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa and Central Valley in California. Researchers sum up that our knowledge of groundwater supplies is insufficient. Other studies show that calculations of groundwater storage based on self-reported statistics from users lack accuracy in defining both national usage and stress on the aquifer compared to satellite models. They found previously calculated estimates of groundwater amount to be far too optimistic and uncertain. For example, Northwest Sahara Aquifer System is found to be depleted to 90% in 50 years concerning current depletion rate (Richey et al., 2015). There are good news though. The rate of depletion of five basins, including Central Valley, appears to be lower than expected, the largest discrepancy in measurements was found for Ganges Basin, 19.6 mm per year net depletion measured by satellite compared to 63.1 mm per year calculated by self-reported measurements. Study finds that still Central Valley is in bad shape and can not be regarded as a resilient system.
This article covers the topic of re-evaluating total water storage in largest aquifers and their depletion rate, which is heavily connected to sustainability. Our journey towards sustainable development starts at estimating the available resources and our usage of them. Precise measurement of groundwater storage is the first step in developing our approaches towards forming the right political decisions in governing groundwater resources. This topic is of great interest to those who are concerned with sustainability. New advances in methods of calculation of groundwater usage open new horizons towards planning and building sustainable future. The knowledge of water available in groundwater basins allows us to be more conscious about water sustainability and lets us develop right approaches. We cannot tolerate uncertainty for our future any longer. Water is our main resource necessary for life and groundwater is one of its main sources, therefore this problem is of great importance. The article is trying to reach as broader public as possible, it aims to reveal that the real state of things is not as good and optimistic as everyone assumed. It lets us understand that we need to draw attention to the issues of water usage and be more conscious if we want to build a sustainable world. This article reveals the big part of even bigger problem of sustainable water management. Along with contamination of water resources and their degradation the depletion of major groundwater aquifers appears to be one big issue to be solved. Re-evaluation of groundwater storage is only a step in global movement to sustainability.
Applying Four Ways of Thinking. Futures thinking. In terms of future thinking new researches that evaluate groundwater storage aim for future where we precisely know the amounts of resources available e.g. groundwater. New methods involving satellites instead of older methods based on self-reported statistics were used to avoid errors and uncertainties that were present till now. Researchers look forward to re-evaluating all groundwater supplies and the dynamics of their depletion. It is up to us though either our actions will lead us to a sustainable tomorrow or our unconsciousness will drive us into the swamp of degradation.
Values thinking. When speaking about values, these researches represent the greatest value of truth and endeavor to obtain correct and actual data. The re-evaluation of all of the major aquifers’ groundwater storage requires a great amount of material and human resources. Nevertheless, it has become a necessary step for effective planning and governing the usage of groundwater systems to build a sustainable world. Luckily the values and interests of all of the participants involved tend to sustainable development.
Systems thinking. The approaches used up till now for estimating the supplies of groundwater yield to systematic errors in planning and executing groundwater usage programs and policy. The uncertainty of data in calculations of groundwater storage in major aquifers leads to operating in a blind state when it comes to managing and controlling our water sustainability. Our poor knowledge of groundwater resources and false hopes on it affects the way we use our surface waters and might cause us big trouble.
Strategic thinking. In order to build a better and sustainable future, we need to reconsider our policy on usage of groundwater systems. To do this, more researches should be done to precisely evaluate the supplies of groundwater in major basins and their depletion and renewal rate. The data received will become a new starting point for effective groundwater management. Researchers say that we can’t tolerate such uncertainty any longer and large amounts of work are to be done.
The depletion of major groundwater basins touches the bigger topic of Water. Issues concerning water management in the world are one of the acutest. Unlike developing countries, developed ones do not experience a significant shortage of clean water while water contamination is a global problem. Therefore, groundwater resources, as one of the main water sources should be thoroughly estimated and taken into concern. To speak about sustainability we need a certain key value to be measured precisely enough. And in the field of groundwater we have uncertainty. Supporting our course’s view of water sustainability as a balance between human demand and natural supply of water this article gives us a clear answer that we are far from sustainability if speaking of groundwater.
Kahn, D., & ClimateWire. (2015, June 17). Satellites Find Less Groundwater Left - Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/satellites-find-less-groundwater-left/.
Richey A. S., Thomas B. F. , Lo M., Famiglietti J. S., Swenson S. & Rodell, M. (2015). Uncertainty in global groundwater storage estimates in a total groundwater stress framework. Water Resources Research. doi: 10.1002/2015WR017351