Fresh water is available as surface water (such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs) and groundwater (found underground in rock or soil layers, and accessed through wells or natural springs). Water is constantly moving on the Earth between the atmosphere, ocean, and different fresh water bodies. Climate, land use, local geology, and water quality all affect the availability of fresh water resources in addition to the direct demands people place on them.
Why does water availability matter?
Water is vital for agriculture, human consumption, industry, and energy generation. If local surface water and groundwater are used up or contaminated beyond use, it becomes necessary to turn to alternative, often more expensive water sources.
How does geoscience help inform decisions on water availability?
Geoscientists study how water moves in order to locate and quantify surface water and water underground. They use models to predict how much water will be available under different scenarios of climate and societal demand. They also explore alternative water sources like water recycling and desalination of ocean water.
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