Cynthia Barnett Authors Article on the Hidden Predicament of Groundwater Depletion in Europe
Cynthia Barnett, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Environmental Journalist-in-Residence, is the author of “Europe’s Water Crisis is Much Worse Than We Thought” published in National Geographic magazine on Dec. 6.
Barnett writes about the historic drought of 2022 and new findings that reveal an alarming decline of freshwater in the European continent’s aquifers. She interviews hydrologist Jay Famiglietti, director of the Global Institute for Water Security at Canada’s University of Saskatchewan, about the U.S./German satellite missions known as GRACE to find the rate of change in the freshwater stored underground. Findings indicate that more groundwater is lost each year than is being replaced by rainfall and other recharge.
According to Barnett, “The results suggest a steady depletion of water in aquifers—the porous rock and soil layers underfoot that store most of the world’s non-frozen freshwater—between 2002 and 2022.”
Barnett writes, “Climate change and aquifer over-pumping are tied together in a tough knot. As severe droughts become more frequent, agricultural, industrial, and urban users pump more water from greater depths to compensate for lack of rain and record heat. Aquifers can’t recover as they could when the rains returned after historic droughts like those marked on the Hunger Stones of the former Bohemia.”
Barnett is currently researching the hidden predicament of groundwater depletion for a new book on the global groundwater crisis. The working title is The Sea Beneath Us: The Secret History and Unseen Crisis of Groundwater.