Whether flowing from your kitchen tap or irrigating food crops, ancient groundwater is crucial in the modern world. It also holds a rich history of the Earth that provides valuable clues to its future. But, as the demand for freshwater grows and climate change accelerates, tapping into such water sources could have profound consequences for humankind. Typically the Interesting Info about Ice-Age Water Vs Modern Water Sources.
Almost all of the world’s water is in oceans (97 percent) or glaciers (2 percent). As glacial ice melts, it drains into the sea, increasing its volume and raising global sea level. At the end of the last ice age, when global sea levels were lower, there was much more fresh water on the continents than today, and lakes stretched for miles across terrain that is now desert.
When the glaciers melted, they left vast inland lakes, including those in Canada’s Great Lakes basin. For a time, the lakes shared a standard outlet in Lake Nipissing, which was then divided into three drainage outlets to form the current Great Lakes system. The lakes were then shaped into their current shapes by river systems.
Some inland lakes sank into the Earth and became groundwater, slowly percolating down through the ground to recharge soils and form rivers. Scientists have developed ways to date the oldest known groundwater by testing its isotopes, which are radioactive and decay over time. For example, carbon-14, produced by the natural radioactive decay of nitrogen, can be used to estimate groundwater age.
The ancient water that Cadiz and other companies taper than the pyramids on the Nile or the world’s oldest tree, the bristlecone pine, was swirling down rivers 15,000 to 20,000 years ago when humans first crossed the Bering Strait to Alaska. It is, in fact, older than our species itself.
But tapping such water is more than a scientific curiosity. It is one of the signs that we are pushing nature beyond her limits, as climate change robs us of moisture from the sky and depletes ancient aquifers at an ever-increasing rate.
In the late conservationist Aldo Leopold’s book “A Sand County Almanac,” he wrote, “We cannot hope to manage our natural resources wisely until we understand them.” Then we can learn to respect the water’s wisdom.
The pond beneath the bones of the matriarch in the story above was once a spring and a source of potable water for early Floridians and their extinct mega-mammal relatives. Concentrations of ancient stone tools attest to the presence of such settlements, many near bodies of water. Today, Florida’s Big Bend region has the nation’s highest concentration of such sites. The aquifers these sites tapped into, such as the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking and irrigation water to millions of people and farms from South Dakota to Texas, are being drained at an unsustainable pace. Unless we slow the rate at which we draw that water, there will be no way to replenish it.