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The Water Resources of Earth

Over 70% of our Earth's surface is covered by water ( we should really call our planet "Ocean" instead of "Earth"). Although water is seemingly abundant, the real issue is the amount of fresh water available. 

  • 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water 
  • Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozen in the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use. 
  • Only ~1% of the world's fresh water is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped in an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall, and is therefore available on a sustainable basis.

This the low percentage of fresh water available is a shocking reality.  To know that once the 1% of the fresh water is contaminated or polluted humans have to consider other methods of obtaining fresh water. This could prove to be a huge challenge. 'Fracking': Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job.  


The Earth seen from Apollo 17 with.png - with transparent background; 2,790×2,776 (14.64 MB). 

Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater. Image: Apollo 17.

NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans - Alt: (direct link)

About the picture:

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows AfricaAntarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Public domainThis file/image is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted". (See Template:PD-USGovNASA copyright policy page orJPL Image Use Policy.)