Environment ocean_freshwater

Published on December 10th, 2013 | by No Artificial

Drinkable Water Beneath The Ocean

Australian scientists say they have made a discovery that could prevent a global water crisis.

While exploring the ocean floor for energy resources, Australian scientists accidentally came across evidence of massive aquifers underneath the ocean.

According to a new research, published in the journal Nature, the freshwater is located off the coast of Australia, North America, China and South Africa.

Scientists estimate there is 500,000 cubic kilometers, or about 120,000 cubic miles, of low-salinity water below the ocean floor.

“The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” Vincent Post, a groundwater hydro geologist from Flinders University in Australia and the lead author of the study, claimed in a statement.

Researchers believe the freshwater reserves have been underneath the ocean for hundreds of thousands of years. They hypothesize that rainwater could have soaked directly into the ground, becoming stored in vast aquifers.

When the polar ice caps began to melt around 20,000 years ago, the level of the sea rose and layers of sediment and clay protected the freshwater from the encroaching ocean water, trapping it beneath the seafloor.

“Our research shows that fresh and brackish aquifers below the seabed are actually quite a common phenomenon,” Post explained. “Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades.“

While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown 6 times. Within the next 50 years, the world population will increase by another 40 to 50 % and half of the globe will be struggling to find clean, fresh sources of water.

This discovery gives scientists hope that we can use the reserves to provide freshwater to regions that need it the most.

“We should use them carefully: once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time,” Post stated.

Although it is possible to exploit the freshwater reserves through platform drilling, it is not yet clear if the costs and environmental impact would be worth the exploitation of the water.

Science Daily

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