The more Earth’s population is surging, mankind is facing an increasingly limited supply of fresh water. But the good news is lately, some Australian scientists have discovered vast fresh water trapped under the ocean floor.
According to scientists they have found 500,000 cubic kilometers (120,000 cubic miles) of freshwater buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
The deposits were formed over hundreds of thousands of years in the past, when the sea level was much lower and areas now under the ocean were exposed to rainfall which was absorbed into the underlying water table. And when the polar icecaps started melting about 20,000 years ago, these coastlines disappeared under water, but their aquifers remain intact – protected by layers of clay and sediment.
At present, more than 40% of the world’s population now live in conditions of water scarcity and the UN Water has estimated that by 2030, 47% of people will exist under high water stress. Therefore, scientists firmly believe that their newly discovered vast amount of fresh water could sustain future generations.
Vincent Post, a groundwater hydro geologist from Flinders University in Australia and the lead author of the study said, “Freshwater on our planet is increasingly under stress and strain so the discovery of significant new stores off the coast is very exciting. ‘It means that more options can be considered to help reduce the impact of droughts and continental water shortages.”
Post also mentioned that these water resources are precious and if “once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time.” So, great care needs to be taken not to contaminate the aquifers.
However, the study has been published in the journal Nature.