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Depleting groundwater resource of Northern India

Posted By Vikas On August 13, 2009 @ 10:01 am In Agriculture,Farmers,environment | 1 Comment

Groundwater Change in India (2002-08)

Groundwater Change in India (2002-08)

In a recent press release from University of California -Irvin [1], reported the evidence of depleting groundwater resource in Northern India. Using satellite data, UC Irvine and NASA hydrologists have found that groundwater beneath northern India has been receding by as much as 1 foot per year over the past decade – and they believe human consumption is almost entirely to blame.
Result has been published in Science Journal Nature (Online on 12 Aug 2009) [2]

Groundwater pumping for crop irrigation

Groundwater pumping for crop irrigation

Study results have been derived from data from twin satellites called GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) [3]. These twin satellites launched in March 2002, are making detailed measurements of Earth’s gravity field which will lead to discoveries about gravity and Earth’s natural systems.

According to study results, more than 109 cubic kilometers (26 cubic miles) of groundwater disappeared from the region’s aquifers between 2002 and 2008 – double the capacity of India’s largest surface-water reservoir, the Upper Wainganga,
People are pumping northern India’s underground water, mostly to irrigate cropland, faster than natural processes can replenish it, says Jay Famiglietti and Isabella Velicogna, UCI Earth system scientists, and Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Groundwater depletion in northwest India is a known problem, but Rodell’s data suggest that the loss rate is around 20% higher than the Indian authorities have previously estimated.
“If measures are not soon taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output, severe shortages of potable water, conflict and suffering,” said Rodell.


Matthew Rodell, Isabella Velicogna & James S. Famiglietti (2009), Satellite-based estimates of groundwater depletion in India, Nature advance online publication 12 August 2009 | doi:10.1038/nature08238; Received 20 February 2009; Accepted 14 June 2009; Published online 12 August 2009

Satellites Unlock Secret To Northern India’s Vanishing Water [4], Science Daily, Aug 12, 2009

Jennifer Fitzenberger, Satellite data explains vanishing India groundwater [1], University of California – Irvin, Feature Article, University Communications, and NASA Earth Science News Team

Ground Water Image source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812143938.htm

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1 Comment To "Depleting groundwater resource of Northern India"

#1 Comment By guddujee On October 5, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

India’s thirst for groundwater is threatening a major water crisis, and adding to global sea level rise, says a report.

Virendra Tiwari, from the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, says that satellite measurements have shown that northern India is sucking some 54 trillion litres of water out of the ground every year.

He and his colleagues used gravity data from the GRACE satellite to monitor the loss of continental mass around the world since 2002.

In their study report, the researchers highlight the fact that regions where water is being removed from the ground have less mass, and, therefore, exert a smaller gravitational pull on the satellite.

As regards their observations, Tiwari’s team revealed that groundwater under northern India and its surroundings was being extracted exceptionally fast.

The researchers’ calculations suggest that an average of 54 cubic kilometres, enough to fill more than 21 million Olympic swimming pools was lost every year between 2002 and 2008.

According to them, boreholes in the region show the water table is dropping by around 10 centimetres a year, reports New Scientist magazine.

John Wahr, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, considers agriculture to be the prime culprit.

The researchers reckon that severe water shortages may hit the 600 million people living in the region in the next few years, if the trend is not reversed soon.

The team also note in their report that the “lost” water does not just disappear, most of it runs into the oceans.

They believe that it might be pushing up global sea levels by as much as 0.16 millimetres each year, which is 5 per cent of total sea level rise.

A research article on the findings has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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URLs in this post:

[1] University of California -Irvin: http://uci-staging.cwis.uci.edu/uci/features/feature_indiagroundwater_090812.php

[2] Nature (Online on 12 Aug 2009): http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090812/full/460789a.html

[3] GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment): http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/

[4] Satellites Unlock Secret To Northern India’s Vanishing Water: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812143938.htm

[5] Image: http://www.addtoany.com/share_save

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