Global Water Unsustainability Map

Via Tom Gleeson and Ludovico van Beek, via Dan Charles at NPR via Nadya Ivanova, John Fleck points to a new world groundwater inventory map. Unsurprisingly, most of the problems are in or near the subtropical arid zone. Globally they add up to a factor in food insecurity.


  1. MT: 'Globally they add up to a factor in food insecurity.'

    Well, yes. But positive or negative? Breadbasket-wise, only America's Midwest and the Upper Ganges look to be badly depleting their groundwater, and the Upper Ganges is expected to get more rainfall in coming decades. The world's future breadbaskets look pretty solid.

    Plus the study seems not to have included anthropogenic replenishment of aquifers such as that currently occurring in the big and scary region in the centre of its graphic, namely Arabia, where pumped desalinated water is so copious it's actually causing problems.

    Here's Gleeson's study:

    (I have only skimmed it so far.)

  2. The bit about desalination was a random observation, not a recommendation. (The 'Plus' didn't help.)

    My point was that apart from the Upper Ganges and (to a lesser extent) the Midwest, no big food-producing areas seem to be depleting groundwater too badly. Russia's grain belt looks healthy, and so do Africa and South America, which both have a lot of breadbasket potential (if you don't care about forests and the like).

  3. Central California, too.

    It looks disturbing enough on the ground in the affected areas, I'm sure you'll agree. Whether this is enough to affect the picture globally depends on how tight supplies get for other reasons. These regions will be quasi-premanently depleted of irrigation and it cannot help to take them offline.

  4. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, August 12, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.