NASA discovers the world's aquifers are running out of water

Water problems.
(Image credit: Jonas Gratzer/Getty Images)

No one really knows the state of one of the world's most vital sources of fresh water, but NASA now has a guess — and it's not good news.

Over half of the world's aquifers — underground reservoirs that provide the water used by 35 percent of humanity — have been draining faster than they've been replenishing, a new study by the space agency has concluded. By tracking the slightest movements in Earth's gravitational pull over a decade, the NASA satellite GRACE was able to estimate the changes. It found that 21 of the world's 37 largest groundwater sources have already reached their sustainability tipping point; researchers believe agriculture, heavy industry, and population growth are to blame.

The study — the first ever to take such a comprehensive look at the issue — was published Tuesday in the journal Water Resources Research.

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“The situation is quite critical,” said Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA told The Washington Post.

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