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  • Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

    Just another part of the "peak everything" thesis...

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0923142503.htm

    100923142503-large.jpg



    Global map of groundwater depletion, measured in cubic meters of water per year. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Geophysical Union)

    Groundwater Depletion Rate Accelerating Worldwide
    by ScienceDaily
    In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled, say scientists who have conducted an unusual, global assessment of groundwater use. These fast-shrinking subterranean reservoirs are essential to daily life and agriculture in many regions, while also sustaining streams, wetlands, and ecosystems and resisting land subsidence and salt water intrusion into fresh water supplies. Today, people are drawing so much water from below that they are adding enough of it to the oceans (mainly by evaporation, then precipitation) to account for about 25 percent of the annual sea level rise across the planet, the researchers find.

    Soaring global groundwater depletion bodes a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system, says Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and leader of the new study. "If you let the population grow by extending the irrigated areas using groundwater that is not being recharged, then you will run into a wall at a certain point in time, and you will have hunger and social unrest to go with it," Bierkens warns. "That is something that you can see coming for miles." He and his colleagues will publish their new findings in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

    In the new study, which compares estimates of groundwater added by rain and other sources to the amounts being removed for agriculture and other uses, the team taps a database of global groundwater information including maps of groundwater regions and water demand. The researchers also use models to estimate the rates at which groundwater is both added to aquifers and withdrawn. For instance, to determine groundwater recharging rates, they simulate a groundwater layer beneath two soil layers, exposed at the top to rainfall, evaporation, and other effects, and use 44 years worth of precipitation, temperature, and evaporation data (1958-2001) to drive the model.

    Applying these techniques worldwide to regions ranging from arid areas to those with the wetness of grasslands, the team finds that the rate at which global groundwater stocks are shrinking has more than doubled between 1960 and 2000, increasing the amount lost from 126 to 283 cubic kilometers (30 to 68 cubic miles) of water per year. Because the total amount of groundwater in the world is unknown, it's hard to say how fast the global supply would vanish at this rate. But, if water was siphoned as rapidly from the Great Lakes, they would go bone-dry in around 80 years.

    *snip*

  • #2
    Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

    agricultural products contain implicit water inputs. when traded, the water required to grow crops is expended in the exporting country and consumed in the importing country. china has very limited fresh water supplies. agricultural imports mitigate that shortage. , we can expect "peak water" to push agricultural prices as much as "peak oil" does.

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    • #3
      Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

      If you follow my investing theme in Uruguay, you may find this of interest:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarani_Aquifer

      Guaraní Aquifer

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      (Redirected from Guarani Aquifer)
      Jump to: navigation, search

      The Guaraní Aquifer


      The Guaraní Aquifer, located beneath the surface of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, is one of the world's largest aquifer systems and is an important source of fresh water.[1] Named after the Guaraní tribe, it covers 1,200,000 km², with a volume of about 40,000 km³, a thickness of between 50 m and 800 m and a maximum depth of about 1,800 m. It is estimated to contain about 37,000 km³ of water (arguably the largest single body of groundwater in the world, although the overall volume of the constituent parts of the Great Artesian Basin is much larger), with a total recharge rate of about 166 km³/year from precipitation. It is said that this vast underground reservoir could supply fresh drinking water to the world for 200 years. Due to an expected shortage of fresh water on a global scale, which environmentalists suggest will become critical in under 20 years, this important natural resource is rapidly becoming politicized, and the control of the resource becomes ever more controversial.

      *snip*

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      • #4
        Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

        And then we have our own, overused Ogallala Aquafier... Supplying the breadbasket of US food production, and not looking soo good since heavy pumping started in the 50's...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer



        Saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer in 1997 after several decades of intensive withdrawals: The breadth and depth of the aquifer generally decrease from north to south.





        Regions where the water level has declined in the period 1980-1995 are shown in yellow and red; regions where it has increased are shown in shades of blue. Data from the USGS





        Groundwater withdrawal rates (fresh water, all sources) by county in 2000. Source: National Atlas

        ****************************************

        Incidentally, lask week on FSN they had a two hour segment on water. Most interesting book I ever read on the Stuff was "Cadillac Desert" and I highly recomment it!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

          http://www.earthweek.com/2010/ew101001/ew101001b.html

          Groundwater Improvidence Expanding Worldwide October 1, 2010


          The increasing rate of groundwater depletion is not sustainable, and will eventually lead to hunger and chaos, according to reearchers.

          A new study shows that the use of groundwater around the world has more than doubled in recent decades, threatening famine and chaos once it eventually becomes depleted. Marc Bierkens of the Netherlands’ Utrecht University says his findings indicate that so much water is being taken out of the ground, evaporated and transported to the oceans through precipitation and runoff that it actually accounts for about 25 percent of the annual rise in sea level across the planet.

          “If you let the population grow by extending the irrigated areas using groundwater that is not being recharged, then you will run into a wall at a certain point in time, and you will have hunger and social unrest to go with it,” warns Bierkens.

          Groundwater depletion rates are highest in northwest India, northeastern China, northeast Pakistan, California’s Central Valley and the American Midwest, according to the study.





          More "good stuff" here: http://blog.agu.org/geospace/2010/09...water-deepens/

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          • #6
            Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

              New Treaty Aims to Protect Shared Transboundary Aquifers

              "...So far, the inventory includes 273 shared aquifers - 68 are in the Americas, 38 in Africa, 65 in eastern Europe, 90 in western Europe and 12 in Asia.
              The growth in the demand for water since 1950 has been met by the increased use of underground resources. Globally, 65 percent of this water is devoted to irrigation, 25 percent to the supply of drinking water and 10 percent to industry.

              Underground aquifers account for more than 70 percent of the water used in the European Union, and are often the only source of supply in arid and semi-arid zones.

              Aquifers supply 100 percent of the water used in Saudi Arabia and Malta, 95 percent in Tunisia and 75 percent in Morocco.

              Irrigation systems in many countries depend very largely on groundwater resources - 90 percent in the Libya, 89 percent in India, 84 percent in South Africa and 80 percent in Spain.

              The aquifers in Africa, which are some of the biggest in the world, are still under-exploited, the UN agency says, adding, "They have considerable potential, provided that their resources are managed on a sustainable basis."

              Since they generally extend across several national boundaries, the sustainable use of African aquifers depends on agreed management mechanisms that will help prevent pollution or over-exploitation. Mechanisms of this kind have begun to emerge. In the 1990s Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan established a joint authority to manage the Nubian aquifer system..."

              http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2...-10-23-01.html

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              • #8
                Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                Originally posted by World Traveler View Post
                "They have considerable potential, provided that their resources are managed on a sustainable basis."
                gotta laugh at that. is there one example of an aquifer being managed on a sustainable basis? within a polity, let alone cross-boundary?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                  Pentagon weapons-maker finds method for cheap, clean water

                  WASHINGTON | Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:15am EDT


                  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A defense contractor better known for building jet fighters and lethal missiles says it has found a way to slash the amount of energy needed to remove salt from seawater, potentially making it vastly cheaper to produce clean water at a time when scarcity has become a global security issue.

                  The process, officials and engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say, would enable filter manufacturers to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

                  Because the sheets of pure carbon known as graphene are so thin - just one atom in thickness - it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter with the force required to separate the salt from the water, they said.

                  The development could spare underdeveloped countries from having to build exotic, expensive pumping stations needed in plants that use a desalination process called reverse osmosis.
                  "It's 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger," said John Stetson, the engineer who has been working on the idea. "The energy that's required and the pressure that's required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less."

                  Access to clean drinking water is increasingly seen as a major global security issue. Competition for water is likely to lead to instability and potential state failure in countries important to the United States, according to a U.S. intelligence community report last year.

                  "Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand absent more effective management of water resources," the report said. "Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate electricity."...

                  ...Lockheed still faces a number of challenges in moving to production of filters made of graphene, a substance similar to the lead in pencils. Working with the thin material without tearing it is difficult, as is ramping up production to the size and scale needed. Engineers are still refining the process for making the holes...

                  ..."The amount of work it takes to squeeze that water through the torturous path of today's best membranes is gone for Perforene," Stetson said. "It just literally pops right through because the membrane is thinner than the atoms it's filtering."


                  Notaro said Lockheed expects to have a prototype by the end of the year for a filter that could be used as a drop-in replacement for filters now used in reverse osmosis plants.

                  The company is looking for partners in the filter manufacturing arena to help it commercialize Perforene as a filter in the 2014-2015 time frame, he said.

                  Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of oil and gas wells.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                    this one-atom-thick sheet will stand up to the osmotic pressure? and can be manufactured one-atom-thick in large enough area with small enough defects to allow the processing of large quantities of sea water without large quantities of leaks? i'll be curious to see if they can indeed commercialize this as quickly as their ambition dictates.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                      Originally posted by jk View Post
                      this one-atom-thick sheet will stand up to the osmotic pressure? and can be manufactured one-atom-thick in large enough area with small enough defects to allow the processing of large quantities of sea water without large quantities of leaks? i'll be curious to see if they can indeed commercialize this as quickly as their ambition dictates.
                      Lockheed has a long tradition of aeronautic innovations churned out of its Skunk Works. The Skunk Works (which now resides in Palmdale) and the company have really branched out into some interesting areas that one would not associate with defense works.

                      I think the promotional "leaks" that are coming out of the company in recent years might be related to the fact that funding is now much more problematic than it was through decades past when the US government supported the defense contractors.

                      I am a biased observer, however. I first read about Lockheed, Kelly Johnson and the Skunk Works after seeing a Canadian Forces F104 Starfighter fly at an airshow in the '60s. I think they represent exactly what the USA is really good at doing - creating something new that is considered by others as first unimaginable, and then not feasible. I have never been a believer in all the hype around fusion reactors, "cold" or otherwise (an opinion I formed after visiting Lawrence Livermore Labs in 1979). But my admiration of the Skunk Works is such that if anybody figures it out, it could well be them...and consequently I am considerably less skeptical than ever before. Have a look at short video on this link (they should title it "The plasma is contained" :

                      http://www.dvice.com/2013-2-22/lockh...wer-four-years

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                      • #12
                        Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                        too cheap to meter?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                          Only in the United Subsidized Socialist States of America

                          In the same way that I think that forecasting near to medium term oil prices is impossible with any confidence, I also think that it's impossible to forecast what this world is really going to be like in another 50 years. The pace of change continues to accelerate. Nano technologies, medical advances (a friend just went through an extraordinarily complex spinal cancer treatment that involved extracting and replacing her stem cells...something I don't believe was even possible a decade ago), computer software capabilities that truly enhance our life experiences (I am researching installing a software intensive synthetic vision system in my light airplane that will dramatically improve situational awareness in instrument flight conditions - something that less than 10 years ago was only available to pilots in a Boeing/Airbus or Gulfstream) and so many other advances. As a medical professional you will know better than most how fragile is the human body and how resilient is the human spirit.

                          I can't point to exactly what is going to be the next new source of "affordable" energy, but I do have a few convictions about it:
                          • We are probably in the early stages of a long transition from the age of petroleum to the age of electricity. Spending time in Europe, especially Switzerland and Germany, and seeing how "electrified" their societies are already had a big impact on this North American.
                          • It won't be wind turbines and solar panels. I am convinced these are going to remain marginal, interim sources...they just cannot be scaled sufficiently (and by that I mean the cost has too linear a relationship with installation volume and output). In 50 years they may prove to be just a curiosity (which won't break my heart as I think wind turbines are a blight on the landscape).
                          • EROEI is going to be revealed as the nonsense it really is...using abundant, cheap forms of energy to source limited, valuable forms of energy (such as liquid transport fuels) could become commonplace. Technology is going to keep driving down the cost of oil sands, heavy oil and shale oil extraction. It might even drive down the real cost of converting natural gas to liquids (GTL), which today is prohibitive.
                          • PCO is going to be disruptive. But that disruption won't be evenly shared around the world. I think anyone listening to the pundits today are going to be surprised because I do not think that the USA is going to be one of the economies that is most effected by it...in fact I think it might be one of the most adaptable and fastest to change when the time comes.
                          Last edited by GRG55; 04-07-13, 10:21 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                            Originally posted by GRG55 View Post
                            Only in the United Subsidized Socialist States of America

                            In the same way that I think that forecasting near to medium term oil prices is impossible with any confidence, I also think that it's impossible to forecast what this world is really going to be like in another 50 years. The pace of change continues to accelerate. Nano technologies, medical advances (a friend just went through an extraordinarily complex spinal cancer treatment that involved extracting and replacing her stem cells...something I don't believe was even possible a decade ago), computer software capabilities that truly enhance our life experiences (I am researching installing a software intensive synthetic vision system in my light airplane that will dramatically improve situational awareness in instrument flight conditions - something that less than 10 years ago was only available to pilots in a Boeing/Airbus or Gulfstream) and so many other advances. As a medical professional you will know better than most how fragile is the human body and how resilient is the human spirit.

                            I can't point to exactly what is going to be the next new source of "affordable" energy, but I do have a few convictions about it:
                            • We are probably in the early stages of a long transition from the age of petroleum to the age of electricity. Spending time in Europe, especially Switzerland and Germany, and seeing how "electrified" their societies are already had a big impact on this North American.
                            • It won't be wind turbines and solar panels. I am convinced these are going to remain marginal, interim sources...they just cannot be scaled sufficiently (and by that I mean the cost has too linear a relationship with installation volume and output). In 50 years they may prove to be just a curiosity (which won't break my heart as I think wind turbines are a blight on the landscape).
                            • EROEI is going to be revealed as the nonsense it really is...using abundant, cheap forms of energy to source limited, valuable forms of energy (such as liquid transport fuels) could become commonplace. Technology is going to keep driving down the cost of oil sands, heavy oil and shale oil extraction. It might even drive down the real cost of converting natural gas to liquids (GTL), which today is prohibitive.
                            • PCO is going to be disruptive. But that disruption won't be evenly shared around the world. I think anyone listening to the pundits today are going to be surprised because I do not think that the USA is going to be one of the economies that is most effected by it...in fact I think it might be one of the most adaptable and fastest to change when the time comes.
                            Your thoughtful post is reassuring, but also brings up a number of questions:

                            Technology will drive down costs for extracting harder-to-get oil, but what about the costs of refining such dirty oil? How long before it becomes too hard to extract and refine at any price? How many years would you say we have before expensive oil becomes essentially Unobtanium? Or do factors like conservation measures, substitute technologies and population growth make this too complex to calculate?

                            I wonder how a little country like Uruguay will fare in a PCO world. It has abundant water to generate hydroelectric power, but has to import all its oil. The USA OTOH is draining its aquifers at breakneck speed, and fracking isn't helping. We can switch from a petroleum-based economy to something else (nuclear?), but water is even more precious than oil. De-salination?

                            I think that after the Petroleum wars are behind us, Water wars will take their place.

                            Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Groundwater Pumping -- Aquifiers Shrinking

                              Originally posted by shiny! View Post
                              Your thoughtful post is reassuring, but also brings up a number of questions:

                              Technology will drive down costs for extracting harder-to-get oil, but what about the costs of refining such dirty oil? How long before it becomes too hard to extract and refine at any price? How many years would you say we have before expensive oil becomes essentially Unobtanium? Or do factors like conservation measures, substitute technologies and population growth make this too complex to calculate?

                              I wonder how a little country like Uruguay will fare in a PCO world. It has abundant water to generate hydroelectric power, but has to import all its oil. The USA OTOH is draining its aquifers at breakneck speed, and fracking isn't helping. We can switch from a petroleum-based economy to something else (nuclear?), but water is even more precious than oil. De-salination?

                              I think that after the Petroleum wars are behind us, Water wars will take their place.
                              I had this great post put up in response, and then lost it. Where the heck is Auto-Save?!

                              Anyway, let me (again) address this issue as I have done a lot of thinking about it.

                              Uruguay should do just fine for many reasons. The first is that most of their good ag land is close (within 2 hours) to one of their two ports, Motevideo and Nueva Palmira. I personally should do even beter than some since I have strategically bought land in the Libertad area, roughly 30-35 miles from the port in Montevideo. Now compare that to say the farmers in the Brasilian cerrado, who ship grains by truck 8-12 hours down bad roads, and are basically paying for the full load out plus the empty truck back. In addition, they are paying for the transport of LOADS of 'inputs' to their farms, and believe me nothing will grow there without lots and lots of inputs. OTOH, I (and many Uruguayans) have quality land that requires far less petroleum-based inputs, as well as far less petroleum 'work' done on our fields. We can also grow in many cases two crops a year. Who is more competitive? Who can get a better return off the land for less costs? Who may be 'shut down' due to 'costs of production' in comparison to others in 'the field'? There is a lot of strategy in what I buy when I buy land, and why I buy land in Uruguay. Personally I would never consider land more than 2 hours from a port anywhere. I believe this makes me much more competitive than a cerrado farmer, and much more competitive than a farmer in the pampas in Argentina as well. In the end, when we are 'bidding' for energy, I will consume less than many around me in neighboring countries.

                              Another aspect is the purchase of "good" land. Good land requires less inputs. You can't grow a damn thing in the cerrado without lots of inputs. In many parts of the Argentine pampas you MUST ground pump water to grow your crops. I (and most farmers in Uruguay) own higher quality land in a weather pattern that tends to bring plenty of natural rainfall, necessitating no ground pumping. We as a whole do not experience the transport costs of many Argentines and Brasilians. Probably the same in Chile as well.

                              This is ALL strategic on my part. I fell into Uruguay, but once I got there, I was able to refine my approach. You could not convince me to buy land in Brasil or Argentina now. I feel much more competiive in a EROEI framework when you consider grain outputs as 'energy'. And in todays world, "food is fuel, fuel is food". In hard times my soy can turn to biodiesel to power my operations. My returns will obviously be much much less, but I will still be in business. What of the 12 hours, bad road, cerrado farmer?

                              The countries that I would be much more concerned about would be island nations like Aruba, or Central American countries like Houndouras. Basically any country that cannot trade off resources for resources (food for fuel as an example) will be in a much bigger world of hurt than a place like Uruguay. Heck even under the worst of circumstances, I could go back to raising cows on all my land, which takes almost no petroleum until transport time. The return would not justify the cost of the land, but if the world were THAT bleak, there are a whole lot more people who would be doing awhole lot worse than I would be, or Uruguay would be.

                              Finally, you need to look at country infrastructure. In Uruguay, roughly half the people live in the capital. If oil gets too expesive, they will park their cars and ride the bus like they did in the past. Can you see that happening in places like LA, or Phoenix? Ever see what traffic looks like in Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires? There are plenty of places that a change in the structure of oil whould have a huge impact on commuting, but Uruguay really is not high on that list.

                              Now in the end it may sound like all this is just a 'rah rah' post for Uruguay, and in a sense it is. But in another sense, it is what got me there, and hours of thought on positioning and the future of PCO. When all was said and done, I saw even petro poor Uruguay as a good contender for the future.

                              EDIT: FWIW, you may find this of interest. WHo knows if she is right, but if she is, another reason to be happy where Uruguay is ocncerned.

                              http://www.financialsense.com/contri...ion-new-normal
                              Last edited by doom&gloom; 04-08-13, 04:47 AM.

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