Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



FARM NEWS
11 percent of disappearing groundwater used to grow internationally traded food
by Staff Writers
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Mar 31, 2017


This Landsat satellite image of Saudi Arabia's Wadi As-Sirhan Basin was captured on March 12, 2000. The circles are fields irrigated by water from aquifers as much as 1 kilometer under the desert. Image courtesy NASA/Landsat/Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen. For a larger version of this image please go here. Watch a video on the research here.

Wheat, rice, sugar, cotton and maize are among the essential internationally traded crops in the global economy. To produce these crops many countries rely on irrigated agriculture that accounts for about 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, according to the United Nations Water program. One freshwater source is underground aquifers, some of which replenish so slowly that they are essentially a non-renewable resource.

A new study by researchers at the University College London and NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York City shows that 11 percent of the global non-renewable groundwater drawn up for irrigation goes to produce crops that are then traded on the international market. Additionally, two-thirds of the exported crops that depend on non-renewable groundwater are produced in Pakistan (29 percent), the United States (27 percent), and India (12 percent).

"It's not just individual countries that experience groundwater depletion, but also their trade partners," said lead author Carole Dalin of the University College London. "When people consume certain imported foods, they should be aware that they can have an impact on the environment elsewhere." The results were published March 30 in Nature.

Dalin and her colleagues used trade data on countries' agricultural commodities from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. They then combined it with a global hydrologic model - validated with ground information and NASA satellite data - to trace the sources of water used to produce 26 specific crop classes from their country of origin to their final destination. Their analysis is the first to determine which specific crops come from groundwater reservoirs that won't renew on human time-scales and where they are consumed.

"Say I'm in Japan, and I'm importing corn from the United States," said co-author Michael Puma of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University in New York City. "It's important from Japan's perspective to know whether that corn is being produced with a sustainable source of water, because you can imagine in the long term if groundwater declines too much, the United States will have difficulty producing that crop."

Globally, 18 percent of all crops grown are traded internationally. The remaining 82 percent stays in country for the domestic market. However, the amounts of various exported crops produced using unsustainable groundwater rose significantly between 2000 and 2010. India, for example, saw its exports of groundwater-depleting crops double in that period, while Pakistan's rose by 70 percent and the United States' rose by 57 percent.

Countries that export and import these crops may be at risk in the future of losing the crops, and their profits, produced with non-renewable groundwater. Importers may need to find alternative sources, possibly at a higher cost.

Major importers of crops raised with non-renewable groundwater include the United States, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Iraq, and China, which went from a net exporter in 2000 to a net importer in 2010. Countries on both lists often export different commodities than they import.

Aquifers form when water accumulates in the ground over time, sometimes over hundreds or thousands of years. Non-renewable aquifers are those that do not accumulate rainfall fast enough to replace what is drawn out to the surface, either naturally to lakes and rivers or in this case by people via pumping. Once that groundwater is depleted, it will effectively be gone for good on the scale of a human life-time, and will no longer be available for relief during crises such as droughts, Dalin explained.

Drawdowns in aquifers worldwide have been observed over the last fifteen years by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a pair of satellites that detect changes in Earth's gravity field to see the movement of masses such as ice sheets and, in this case, underground water.

"What's innovative about this study is it connects groundwater depletion estimates with country level data," said hydrologist Matt Rodell at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was not involved in the study. More research needs to be done which considers population growth, changing diets, climate change, the implementation of irrigation technology and policy changes to understand when these aquifers may begin to run dry, he said.

The absolute amount of water in many of these aquifers is difficult to quantify, though experts in many regions are already looking at better methods to determine how much water remains and how long it may last, Dalin said. Now and in the future, decision makers and local farmers will need to decide on a strategy for using this non-renewable water that balances the needs of short-term production versus long-term sustainability, she said.

Research paper

FARM NEWS
Dairy farmers should rethink a cow's curfew
Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Apr 02, 2017
Dairy cows housed indoors want to break curfew and roam free, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia, published in Scientific Reports. The study measured how much work dairy cows will do to access pasture, by pushing on a weighted gate. The cows worked hard to access pasture, especially at night. As a comparison, the researchers also measured how much weight the cows ... read more

Related Links
Goddard Space Flight Center
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

FARM NEWS
FARM NEWS
New MAVEN findings reveal how Mars' atmosphere was lost to space

Potential Mars Airplane Resumes Flight

Prolific Mars Orbiter Completes 50,000 Orbits

Final two ExoMars landing sites chosen

FARM NEWS
How a young-looking lunar volcano hides its true age

Surviving the long dark night of the Moon

Team Indus To Send Seven Experiments To The Moon Including Three From India

Sun Devils working for a chance to induce photosynthesis on our lunar neighbor

FARM NEWS
Neptune's movement from the inner to the outer solar system was smooth and calm

Four unknown objects being investigated in Planet X

New Horizons Halfway from Pluto to Next Flyby Target

ANU leads public search for Planet X

FARM NEWS
Exoplanet mission gets ticket to ride

Inside Arctic ice lies a frozen rainforest of microorganisms

Astronomers confirm atmosphere around the super-Earth

TRAPPIST-1 flares threaten possibility of habitability on surrounding exoplanets

FARM NEWS
US Hardware Production Begins for Money-Saving Next-Generation Rockets

'Fuzzy' fibers can take rockets' heat

Flight Tests of Super-Heavy Angara-A5V Carrier Rocket May Start in 2027

Kremlin Believes Russia Can Compete With Private Firms Like SpaceX in Space

FARM NEWS
Yuanwang fleet to carry out 19 space tracking tasks in 2017

China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing

Long March-7 Y2 ready for launch of China's first cargo spacecraft

China Seeks Space Rockets Launched from Airplanes

FARM NEWS
Comet That Took a Century to Confirm Passes by Earth

Wrong-way asteroid plays 'chicken' with Jupiter

A Trojan in Retreat

ExoTerra to become first privately owned space company to fly to an asteroid




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement