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Vital Water Graphics 2

CHAPTER 1: State of the world’s water

Table of contents
Toward a world of thirst?ForewordExecutive summary Water and population

1. State of the world’s water

2. Freshwater resources3. Coastal and marine water4. Water and climate change

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This chapter addresses a few preconceived ideas on the availability and use of water worldwide. There is no ‘creation’ of ‘new’ water on the planet. The available volume of water is recycled through a well coordinated system between the earth and the atmosphere, ‘the hydrologic cycle’. This means that despite a rapidly growing population, the volume of available and accessible freshwater is roughly the same. Supplying this growing population therefore depends on the capacity (and the will) to manage the resource differently (i.e. ensuring its quality, quantity and access) so that it can reach more people.

A common perception is that most of the available freshwater resources are visible (on the surfaces of lakes, reservoirs and rivers). However, this visible water represents only a tiny fraction of global freshwater resources, as most of it is stored in aquifers, with the largest stocks stored in solid form in the Antarctic and in Greenland’s ice cap.

In this chapter

The water cycle

Estimated residence time of water resources

A world of salt

World’s surface water: evaporation and runoff

Renewable surface water produced internally