A new study claims that human beings are causing great shifts in where water is located around the globe.
Human beings are caused a huge redistribution of fresh water all over the Earth, and that is having a tremendous impact on our environment. A NASA mission that has been ongoing for 14 years has discovered that mid-latitude belts are seeing their fresh water reserves depeleting while higher latitudes are getting more water over the years.
The shift probably has a lot to do with climate change, and it could have major consequences in the future should it continue. Regions with high populations could have difficulty getting water in the future as humans draw out a vast amount of groundwater, although scientists are not quite sure exactly how it will play out in the coming decades.
The findings were made during the GRACE mission, a NASA project that spans from 2002 and 2016. The GRACE mission uses two satellites in orbit that monitor mass changes on the Earth below based on slight differences between the satellites. Since water and ice are the massive features that change the most on Earth, the satellites are able to watch things like major losses of ice in Greenland, Antarctica, and Alaska, for example.
“This is the first time that we’ve used observations from multiple satellites in a thorough assessment of how freshwater availability is changing, everywhere on Earth,” said Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability – wet periods and dry periods associated with El Niño and La Niña, for example – from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished.”