Fresh water sources are hidden beneath the depths of the world’s oceans that could serve as a replacement water source, especially for many land-based aquifers that are on the verge of drying up.
“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 Dr. Vincent Post from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and the Flinders University School of the Environment. “Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades.”
A new study suggests that these massive underwater aquifers, discovered off the coasts of Australia, China, North America and South Africa, contain such high amounts of resources, that freshwater, say Australian researchers, that water shortages could become a thing of the past.
It is estimated that roughly half a million cubic kilometers of low-salinity water are just waiting to be tapped underneath various sections of ocean seabed, a volume that the researchers who discovered the water say is many times greater than the overall volume extracted from land-based aquifers throughout the past 100-or-so years.
Assuming this water can be successfully extracted and transported, they say it could provide sustenance to the nations of the world for many years to come.
Published in the international scientific journal Nature, Dr. Post and his colleagues’ research confirms that there is far more freshwater buried inside the earth than previously believed. Instead of being a rare occurrence, these ocean-based aquifers are actually quite common, typically forming on continental shelves near coastlines.
“Our research shows that fresh and brackish aquifers below the seabed are actually quite a common phenomenon,” adds Dr. Post. “Many aquifers were — and are still — protected from seawater by layers of clay and sediment that sit on top of them.”
Believed to have formed during a previous age when sea level was much lower and coastlines were further out, underground ocean aquifers are only rare in the sense that they are non-renewable. In other words, once all the freshwater is extracted from them, there is no feasible way for new freshwater to take its place.
This can also help tropical islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where they actually have water shipped in.