As pointed out by a new research, the availability of natural freshwater has lowered in regions of India involving the eastern and northern parts of the country. These observations featured in the Nature journal depicted that the wetlands of our planet are gradually getting drier because of numerous factors.
The study was formulated by collaborating the observations of the Earth taken by a NASA satellite and various data relating to the activities of humans. The observations used in the study were the fourteen years data collected by the US/German-led Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission.
Matt Rodell at the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at Greenbelt in Maryland, said, “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.” Rodell further added, “A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability – wet periods and dry periods associated with El Nino and La Nina, for example – from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished.”
This helped in mapping the exact locations on the Earth where freshwater is declining. As per the mapping, the areas facing a serious an overuse of the freshwater resources include- eastern and northern India, Australia, the Middle East, and California. The study found out that the reasons behind such a concerning situation are- “changes in the climate, natural cycles, and human water management.”
The study showed that the water supplies of some regions are stable while they are vigorously fluctuating in the others. The co-author of the study Jay Famiglietti at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena in California, said, “What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change.” Famiglietti further explained, “We see a distinctive pattern of the wetland areas of the world getting wetter – those are the high latitudes and the tropics – and the dry areas in between getting dryer. Embedded within the dry areas we see multiple hotspots resulting from groundwater depletion.”
Famiglietti added that in some regions the factor contributing to the loss in water tends to be the warming of the climate, however, the factors contributing to the same in the other regions, is yet to be identified. As per the researchers, only the data received by the GRACE satellite is not enough for arriving at conclusions regarding the factors affecting water conditions.