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Epic Freshwater Reserves Discovered Under Ocean Floor

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12/05/2013 @ 9:53PM

Vast Freshwater Reserves Discovered Under Ocean Floor, Scientists Say

URL: http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/12/05/epic-freshwater-reserves-discovered-under-ocean-floor/

Massive reserves of "freshwater" are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world, including off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.

This is the conclusion of a new study by a team of Australian scientists that appears in this week’s issue of the journal, Nature. Based on an analysis of seafloor water studies conducted for oil and gas exploration purposes, the study showed that an estimated that 500,000 cubic kilometers of low-salinity water is trapped in aquifers under the ocean floor. “The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” said Vincent Post, a groundwater hydro geologist from Flinders University in Adelaide and the new study’s lead author.

This new freshwater resource could give regions suffering with limited access to freshwater more options for combating the impact of droughts and alleviating the impact of water scarcity on future generations.

By 2030, nearly 50% of the planet’s population will exist under conditions of high water stress, according to the United Nations. The new study undercuts the conventional wisdom on undersea freshwater reserves, which until now were considered to be rare.

“By combining all this information we’ve demonstrated that the freshwater below the seafloor is a common finding, and not some anomaly that only occurs under very special circumstances,” said Post.

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