Scientists have discovered huge reserves of freshwater beneath the oceans kilometres out to sea, providing new opportunities to stave off a looming global water crisis.
A new study, published December 5 in the international scientific journal Nature, reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world.
The water, which could perhaps be used to eke out supplies to the world's burgeoning coastal cities, has been located off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
"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," says lead author Dr Vincent Post (pictured) of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University.
"Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades."
Dr Post says that groundwater scientists knew of freshwater under the seafloor, but thought it only occurred under rare and special conditions.
"Our research shows that fresh and brackish aquifers below the seabed are actually quite a common phenomenon," he says.At the American Interest, they observed this is just another kick to Malthus:
Water scarcity has been a favorite topic for the Chicken Littles of the world. Just 18 years ago the vice president of the World Bank was ominously warning that “the wars of the next century will be fought over water.” It’s easy to drum up fears of “water wars” some undetermined time in the future, but studies like this one, and discoveries of new water sources like this one in Kenya, or this one under the Sahara, suggest that these fears that have gripped Malthusians—and that Malthusians have in turn used to push through otherwise unworkable policy recommendations—are a lot less serious.Reading these, something else was tickling my mind, but it was a couple days until I realized what it was: