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Freshwater Resources & The Environment Part 1

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Earth Sciences
Luc Bernier

Freshwater ResourcesThe EnvironmentPart 1Landscape and Water ResourcesThere are close natural links between landscape and water resourcesWater that condenses contributing to cloud formation reaches the ground in the form of precipitation and returns to the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporationWater that has reached the ground can infiltrate percolate and be reabsorbed by plantsThe water will also lead to the formation of groundwater and a water tableRocks and soils will be saturated with water and eventually water that flows as groundwater will form springs as the water connects with the topographyThe surface runoff will eventually lead to the oceanPrecipitation contributes to the formation of groundwaterThe groundwater saturates rocks and soil and eventually flows to springs and eventually the oceanHabitat Destruction and WaterThe global international waters assessment report has studied these linkages between landscape and waterThe destruction of habitats is involved in 18 of the cases of regions facing water related issuesFor 75 of the population facing water related issues pollution is involvedThe absence of Cyprus swamps destroyed by logging and saltwater intrusions by manmade canals is among the factors that lead to the flooding of New Orleans 2005 following hurricane Katrina Engineering of the landscapeIntensive deforestation results in major problemsLarge scale irrigation results in major problemsAgriculture results in major problems Freshwater ResourcesThe EnvironmentIndicators of Ecosystem HealthThe impact of these changes can be tracked by indicators of ecosystem healthFor freshwater systems fish are good indicators because they are acclimated and in sync with this environmentThere are problems with using fishOverfishingAnother factor in the destruction of aquatic habitatRiver engineering focused on flood prevention removes shallow backwaters where fish may breed or hide from predators Blue and Green WatersWater resource management has focused on rainfall and runoff of blue water because of its potential commercial valueEvapotranspiration is considered a loss even though this is the life blood of crops and terrestrial plantsGreen water is directly used by the biosphereIt is a direct important for agriculture and economyThe FAO has adapted this dichotomy between blue and green water when discussing water related issues Blue WaterBaseflow o Fair weather flow in riversBaseflow is one of the forms of blue waterIt takes into account groundwater seepage and river flowIt accounts for 11 of the fate of annual precipitationStormflow o Flow in rivers from rain eventsStormflow is the other form of blue waterIt accounts for the fate of 27 of annual precipitation15 of all blue water is used for irrigation but only half goes back to rivers Green WaterGreen water is considered lost as water vapor but now it is incorporated into concepts of virtual water and water footprintsThe majority of water supplied to crops is green waterCrops use 4 of global precipitationForests account for 17 of global precipitationGrasslands account for 31 of the fate of total global precipitationWhile 23 of human withdrawals are for irrigated agriculture this is relatively limited compared to the fate of natural watering
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