Remote Sensing to Answer Tomorrow’s World Peace Today

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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites; twin satellites were 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. These discoveries could have far-reaching benefits to society and the world’s population.

Previously scientists have presented the fresh water risk in India. They have attributed the India’s water storage loss as the fastest rate of groundwater storage loss. Recently, another study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring (GRACE) satellites, finds that a large part of the arid Middle East region has lost the fresh water reserves rapidly during the past decade. The researchers have used GRACE satellite images for the period (2003-2009) and successfully identified the water loss in the  parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basin. They have found this region was losing around 117 million acre feet of fresh water, which is about the equivalent to the Dead Sea. ops! Quite an alarm.

Variations in total water storage from normal, in millimeters, in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, as measured by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, from January 2003 through December 2009. Reds represent drier conditions, while blues represent wetter conditions. The majority of the water lost was due to reductions in groundwater caused by human activities. By periodically measuring gravity regionally, GRACE tells scientists how much water storage changes over time. Image Credit: NASA / UC Irvine / NCAR
Variations in total water storage from normal, in millimeters, in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, as measured by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, from January 2003 through December 2009. Reds represent drier conditions, while blues represent wetter conditions. The majority of the water lost was due to reductions in groundwater caused by human activities. By periodically measuring gravity regionally, GRACE tells scientists how much water storage changes over time. Image Credit: NASA / UC Irvine / NCAR

Some researchers have attributed the causes of the rapid decline of water reserves are pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs and drought. If i want to put a little technical detail how this system works, we can explain like; drought controls the ground water recharge and ground water storage controls the earth’s gravity field and monitoring the earth’s gravity field we can estimate the change in ground water reserve.

Now, what about the water storage trends of the whole world? I’m truly excited to know about that. Because some conflict researchers are assuming that the next world war will be over the access to the fresh water, which can be found in several Environmental security literature. If it’s true, this kind of critical piece of information on fresh water can secure tomorrow’s world peace. Whenever we talk about fresh water resource the climate change hops in. Global warming is not only warming us up its also snatching out water resource and causing droughts. What’s the scenario then? Though fragile but a clear understanding is countries in lower latitude (i.e., Sub-Saharan Africa) are suffering from global warming and the face is drought   It would be interesting to assess the ground water loss from both of the cause windows (pumping water and drought) separately.Until now, GRACE really is the only way we can estimate groundwater storage changes from space. GRACE images and Uppsala Conflict Data Program’s Georeferenced Event Dataset are the way out to conduct such research.  Now, we all know issues and methods; lets save the world.

source: http://www.nasa.gov/grace

I believe, Geospatial Technologies are not only about integrating hardware and software to understand our world but also about Geopeople. Geopeople are now becoming a share of this smart system as they are devising themselves as a tool, for information processing and dissemination. So, here I am a Geo-individual to nous Geoawesomeness. In this new era of humankind I am to sense the same world with geospatial tastes.

3 COMMENTS

  1. continuing on the last part of the topic then.. water wars.. they would most likely after emerging in various developed countries or ‘usual’ hot spots would stop for longer at the most poor lands of Africa… I’m saing so cos already longer time ago there was a BBC article telling how huge the African Aquifers are, as well as how deep they lay (for what just countries with technologies could reach it..) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17775211)..
    And just a global look of Aquifers: https://www.connectedwaters.unsw.edu.au/images/user/img_wow_1.jpg
    which again just visually confirms the size of waters as well as under which countries they lie..

  2. wow! That’s new to me. I did not know that Africa has such huge Aquifers (the second mentioned link attains the fact). From this article, I have also found another important covariate for conflict research, is technology. Another interesting thing I have observed in the aquifer productivity map (first link), is most of the high productivity aquifers are in the extreme north of Africa; desert area. Make sense, desert areas have no other way for availing water then aquifers; so aquifer’s productivity has to be high. Very Interesting information. These facts also support the researchers’ assumption of water war (visually of course) in a sense that the distribution of aquifers is uneven which can trigger conflicts if it’s not managed in a well manner (conflict over the access to ground water). Very recently in one of my research I have found that water availability has significant correlation with conflict, though I have done it based on surface fresh water resource. It would be pretty interesting to perform the same analysis for the ground water resource. But still one thing we don’t know is the rate of aquifer water loss for the whole world. I would love to see such a map. I suspect that might have a pretty good connection and would help us to understand the war dynamics. Anyway, thank you very much for sharing such interesting information.

  3. The possible research about deep ground resources, even in a function of technological countries strength, for now would not show any correlation with occurring conflicts. Those resources are big, they are expensive to access, and there is no lack for water in a “ruling countries”, for now gold is oil..
    But it would be nice to make some predictions, some simulation of possibilities, referencing to a correlation between surface water and conflicts.

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