Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘aquifers’

Beijing Sinking

Posted by feww on June 24, 2016

Eastern portion of Beijing sinking at a rate greater than 100 mm/year: Study

Now you see it, now you don’t!  China’s capital Beijing could disappear in a  gigantic sinkhole.

Beijing’s massive subsidence, which has been occurring since at least 1935, is caused by the overexploitation or mining of groundwater. About 60% of the water supply comes from groundwater, and the rest from surface water.

Beijing used about 3.6 billion cubic meters (m³) of water in 2010, compared to renewable fresh water resources of about 3 billion m³. [The consumption may have risen by about 14% over the past five years.]

Article: Imaging Land Subsidence Induced by Groundwater Extraction in Beijing (China) Using Satellite Radar Interferometry


Beijing is one of the most water-stressed cities in the world. Due to over-exploitation of groundwater, the Beijing region has been suffering from land subsidence since 1935. In this study, the Small Baseline InSAR technique has been employed to process Envisat ASAR images acquired between 2003 and 2010 and TerraSAR-X stripmap images collected from 2010 to 2011 to investigate land subsidence in the Beijing region. The maximum subsidence is seen in the eastern part of Beijing with a rate greater than 100 mm/year. Comparisons between InSAR and GPS derived subsidence rates show an RMS difference of 2.94 mm/year with a mean of 2.41 ± 1.84 mm/year. In addition, a high correlation was observed between InSAR subsidence rate maps derived from two different datasets (i.e., Envisat and TerraSAR-X). These demonstrate once again that InSAR is a powerful tool for monitoring land subsidence. InSAR derived subsidence rate maps have allowed for a comprehensive spatio-temporal analysis to identify the main triggering factors of land subsidence. Some interesting relationships in terms of land subsidence were found with groundwater level, active faults, accumulated soft soil thickness and different aquifer types. Furthermore, a relationship with the distances to pumping wells was also recognized in this work.

Chen M, Tomás R, Li Z, Motagh M, Li T, Hu L, Gong H, Li X, Yu J, Gong X. Imaging Land Subsidence Induced by Groundwater Extraction in Beijing (China) Using Satellite Radar Interferometry. Remote Sensing. 2016; 8(6):468.

The World Cities Are Running Out of Fresh Water [AND Sinking]

Groundwater from aquifers is a main source for drinking, irrigation and industrial use for much of the world’s population. Globally, an estimated 4 billion people depend on groundwater for drinking, but the water is running out!

Groundwater cannot be replenished from rainfall, and in most cases it takes tens of thousands of years to restore naturally.

According to the International Water Management Institute, about 1,000 cubic kilometers of groundwater are withdrawn each year, which is wholly unsustainable!

More Water Facts

  • Total water on Earth: 1.4 x 10^18 m³
  • Water in the oceans: About 97.5% of the total
  • Volume of Fresh water: Approximately 35 x 10^15 m³ of the earth’s total water. About 0.3% of the freshwater is held in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs and the remainder is stored in glaciers, permanent snow, and groundwater aquifers.
  • Water contained in the earth’s atmosphere: about 13 x 10^12 m³
  • Water removed from the earth’s surface via evaporation: about 577 x 10^12 m³ each year (only 14% of the water evaporation is from land).
  • Total annual precipitation falling on land: about 115 x 10^12 m³ (20% of total evaporation – the 6% surplus water returns to the oceans via rivers.)
  • Total freshwater on Earth stored as groundwater: Approximately 11 x 10^15 m³ (30% of all freshwater).
  • Water collected in lakes and rivers: about 110 x 10^12 m³ is held as groundwater (one hundredth of the total groundwater reserves)
  • Aquifers contribution to human water consumption: an estimated 30% [?] of all of the water used throughout the world.
  • Natural recharge rate for the aquifers: from 0.01% to 3% per year.
  • Estimated overdraft of global groundwater: about 200 x 10^9 m³ or (twice the average recharge rate!)

Sinking Cities

World cities and agricultural lands that are situated above aquifers and groundwater reserves are slowly but permanently sinking into the ground, as the water is pumped out at phenomenal rates.

In China, at least 46 cities are sinking into the ground due to the excessive pumping of groundwater. In Shanghai excessive groundwater pumping contributes to 70 percent of surface subsidence (the remaining 30 percent is thought to be due to the weight of buildings).

Buildings damaged in a cave-in at Shanghai’s No 4 subway construction site.
[Photo: China Daily] See Fair Use Notice!

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California Groundwater Levels 100 Feet Below Previous Historic Lows

Posted by feww on May 7, 2014


Vital groundwater provides up to 60% of California’s water supply during droughts

California groundwater resources are at historically low levels, and recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historic lows in some parts of the state, according to a recent report released by the California Department of Water Resources.

About 30 million Californians, over three quarters of the state’s population, receives at least part of their drinking water from groundwater, said California Water Foundation.

Groundwater is the only supply available for some regions during drought, and it’s critical to the state’s agricultural economy.

Drought causes water famine leading to crop disasters. It degrades water quality, and leads to surface and groundwater level declines, land subsidence, soil erosion, intense wildfires, humongous dust storms, and spread of disease.

30 Percent of California Water Comes from Snowpack

Snowpack provides about a third of the water used by California’s cities and farms. As of  May 6, 2014, the California statewide water content of snowpack (weighted average) stood at only 13% of normal for this date, and just 9%  of April 1 average, according to the Department of Water Resource.

Snow Water Equivalents – Statewide Summary

Provided by the California Cooperative Snow Surveys – Updated May 6, 2014 06:37PDT

Average snow water equivalent:  2″
Percent of April 1 average: 9%
Percent of normal for this date: 13%

May 5, 2014

Average snow water equivalent:  3″
Percent of April 1 average: 9%
Percent of normal for this date: 13%

The monthly snow survey on May 1, 2014 showed the average water content in the northern Sierra snowpack that helps fill the state’s major reservoirs at a dismal 7 percent for this time of the year.

Tragedy of the Commons

Between 2003 – 2010, California’s groundwater “overdraft” averaged almost 2.5 million acre-feet per year, and more than triple that amount (nearly 8 million acre-feet per year) in 2012 (a dry year) and 2013 (a critically dry year), according to Hydrologic Modeling Center at the University of California.

[An acre-feet is about 1.23 million liters. Editor ]

“This overdraft is, in many respects, a ‘tragedy of the commons:’ the accumulation of what could be viewed individually as benign actions, i.e., small amounts of pumping, that has broad impacts extending beyond individual pumpers,” said the report.

[Overdraft: The condition of a groundwater basin in which the  amount of water withdrawn by pumping exceeds the amount of water that recharges the basin over a period of years during which water supply conditions approximate average. Because groundwater is extracted at a higher rate than it is replenished over this period of time, groundwater levels decline persistently under this condition.]

The report has identified the following potentially devastating effects associated with the depletion:

Land Subsidence. Groundwater pumping can cause deformation of the land surface, leading to subsidence. The sinking or deformation of land could in turn cause:

  • Increased coastal and inland flooding
  • Reduced conveyance capacity of canals, aqueducts, and flood bypass channels
  • Damage to buildings, roads, bridges, pipelines, levees, wells, and other infrastructure
  • Development of earth fissures, which can damage surface and subsurface structures and allow for contamination from the surface to enter shallow aquifers

During the 1960s and 1970s, parts of the Central Valley experienced a drop of more than 25 feet due to groundwater pumping. Occurrences of land subsidence have been discovered in many areas across the state, costing billions of dollars to the federal and state government, farmers, irrigation districts, and local agencies to repair. Subsidence continues in many of these areas as discussed in “Land Subsidence from Groundwater Use in California” LSCE, Borchers & Carpenter (2014), sometimes at near historically high rates.

Increasing energy costs. Overdraft has caused groundwater levels to drop hundreds of feet in certain areas of the state. As groundwater levels drop, water users must pump from greater depths, increasing energy used to operate pumps and thereby increasing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Water quality degradation. Overdraft can damage water quality through a variety of mechanisms. It can allow saltwater intrusion, as has occurred in Pajaro Valley, the Central and West Coast Basins, and elsewhere, or draw in adjacent plumes of pollution. The interconnection between surface water and groundwater means that contamination in one may migrate to the other. Ironically, by over pumping groundwater to meet a current need, water users may be contaminating the aquifer and effectively reducing their future groundwater supplies.

Streamflow depletion impacts on surface water rights and ecosystems. Many aquifers naturally release water into surface water bodies. When groundwater is depleted the aquifer may instead draw from adjacent or connected surface water bodies like lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands; this reduces streamflows and lake levels.
Streamflow depletion impacts surface water right holders, degrades aquatic habitats and harms the flora and fauna that depend on these habitats. For example, partly due to groundwater overdraft, the lower Cosumnes River recently has been completely dry throughout most of the salmon migration period and impacting surface water flows into the Delta.

Related Links

First State of Emergency Issued in January

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 17  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

Second State of Emergency

Brown proclaimed a second State of Emergency on April 25, 2014 to “redouble state drought actions, and has called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.”

“We are playing Russian roulette with our environment,” said Brown.

However, it’s doubtful whether he knows exactly how many bullets there are in the cylinder, contends FIRE-EARTH.

California State Resources

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty – with the critical phase occurring by as early as 2011.

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered/censored by Google, WordPress and others. Editor]

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Image of the Day: Southern Spain

Posted by feww on June 15, 2008

Desertification of Southern Spain

The land of southern Spain has dried, leading to rationing and disputes over water. Photo: Monica Gumm for The International Herald Tribune. Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

The average surface temperature in Spain has risen 2.7 degrees compared with about 1.4 degrees globally since 1880, records show. (Source)

Related Links

Posted in Climate Change, energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics, Tourism, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »