Rethinking Groundwater Supplies in Light of Climate Change: How Can Groundwater Be Sustainablly Managed While Preparing for Water Shortages, Increased Demand, and Resource Depletion?

By Meyland, Sarah J. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Rethinking Groundwater Supplies in Light of Climate Change: How Can Groundwater Be Sustainablly Managed While Preparing for Water Shortages, Increased Demand, and Resource Depletion?


Meyland, Sarah J., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Signals that a World Water Crisis is Developing

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted, in increasingly strong language, that the water sources (rivers, lakes, and bores/groundwater) humans have relied upon for millennia may disappear or be radically different in the future (Bates 2008; Gupta 2007; Lean 2007; Watson et al. 1997).

The predicted changes address where water is located, in what form water is stored (ice vs. liquid) and in what amount will water be available. The natural conditions related to these changes include:

$ shifts in precipitation patterns; some areas receiving more rain, others receiving less;

$ shifts in storm frequency (fewer) and intensity (more intense) (Chang 2008);

$ loss of ice stored as glaciers and as polar ice formations (Revkin 2008);

$ loss of inland river flow due to reductions in winter storms, spring snow melt and runoff; and

$ drop in groundwater levels due to reduced recharge (less rain over recharge areas) and increased pumpage from aquifers (Bates 2008; Rogers 2008).

Although public and regulatory attention is slowly exerting pressure to make public water supply systems more efficient, meaning they waste less water, and more conservation minded, are these efforts missing the bigger picture of overall freshwater availability, now and in the future? According to Peter Rogers, P.E., of Harvard University (2008), "the world's demand for freshwater is currently overtaking its ready supply in many places and this situation shows no sign of abating."

Reminder of World Water Resources

It is worth remembering how the earth's water is distributed across the planet. Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is held as saline water, primary in the earth's oceans, and is unfit for use by most terrestrial plants and animals, including humans. Only 3 per cent of the earth's water is freshwater and of this, 2 per cent is stored as ice in continental glaciers and the polar ice caps. Thus, only 1 per cent of the earth's total water is readily usable by humans. Most of the 1 per cent is stored as groundwater. Surface water (streams, rivers and lakes) makes up only about 0.02 per cent of all water (USGS Water Basics).

Climate Change Is Already Affecting Freshwater Resources

Some of the most important glaciers around the world are in retreat. For example, glaciers in the Himalayas, the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, Alaska and Canada, Greenland, South America and Switzerland are melting faster than most climate models predicted.

"Yao Tandong, one of China's leading glaciologist, believes that at currents rates, two thirds of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau glaciers could disappear by 2060" (Brown 2008 4). The Greenland glaciers are melting so rapidly that they are triggering localized earthquakes as the crust adjusts to the loss of billions of tons of ice that is "breaking off and sliding into the sea." (Brown, P. 2007).

According to Chris Rapley, leading expert for the British Antarctic Survey, "the ice is moving faster both in Greenland and Antarctica than the glaciologist had believed would happen" (Brown 2008 4). Recently, "the Markham Ice Shelf, a sheet of ice that had been attached to Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic for 4,500 years, broke loose and disintegrated over a few days in August [2008], scientists reported," in September (New York Times 2008).

The loss of major continental ice formations is important for many reasons. One reason important to humans is that the melting water drains a significant amount of fresh water to the oceans. Excessive melting represents a disruption of the normal snow and melt cycles that have historically provided water to some of the world's major river and groundwater systems. "The glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau feed all the major rivers of Asia, including the Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and the Yellow Rivers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Rethinking Groundwater Supplies in Light of Climate Change: How Can Groundwater Be Sustainablly Managed While Preparing for Water Shortages, Increased Demand, and Resource Depletion?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.