World's Major Rivers Are Drying Up
Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch
Major rivers around the world are drying up due to climate change, according to US National Center for Atmospheric Research, which has released a study showing that a third of the world's biggest and most vital rivers have suffered significant changes over the last half century. And the study is pinning it on climate change. When it comes to the drying up of major rivers, it's risky to point only one finger directly at climate change. Humans have re-directed water from rivers in huge ways, sending it to be used as drinking water in far away places, pouring it over agricultural lands miles and miles from the water source, and built structures of various types on rivers to alter their flow. Especially over the last 50 years, climate change is not the only thing endangering our water systems.
However, it certainly plays a role, as shown in this study:
The comprehensive study assessed 925 rivers using both satellite data and on the ground measurement, and found that while the flow in some rivers had increased as a result of changing rainfall patterns and glacial melt water, a significantly larger number had lost water.
Overall, the study found that from 1948 to 2004, annual freshwater discharge into the Pacific Ocean fell by about six per cent, or 526 cubic kilometres – approximately the same volume of water that flows out of the Mississippi river each year. Similarly, the annual flow into the Indian Ocean dropped by about three per cent, while the flow of the Columbia river in the US declined by about 14 per cent.
The Ganges, the Niger and the Colorado are included in the list of rivers drying up.
The report will be published next month, but the researchers are not optimistic about what they've found. In fact, they conclude that emergency spending around water issues will have to increase to $25 billion a year, and that a UN climate change agreement made this year must include wealthy countries providing $42 billion a year to developing nations to help them work through problems associated with climate change, such as a loss of water.
Dire news, but not surprising considering all the information being revealed about the water crisis. With predictions of drought, flooding, and water wars, it's important to start focusing seriously on water solutions. Large companies are already realizing the importance of investing in technology - and just plain investing - that revolve around fresh, clean water.
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