How much fresh water is there in the world? How is this water distributed and what areas will or will face water scarcity? And if this scarcity increases, what are the consequences for the food supply, public health and the environment? Mark Perkins, Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University, knows it or wants to discover it. “Where there is a little water, a little water comes.”
by Case Jan van Kesteren
Last year, Perkins was awarded the prestigious European Advanced Research Council grant of €2.5 million for a 5-year period. It will investigate how much groundwater is still on the ground and how much can be extracted sustainably and economically. And recently the National Geographic Society invited him, along with fellow Utrecht professor and drought expert Nico Wanders, to take a closer look at the total freshwater supply worldwide. They are going to make a “world water map”. Part of this global water map is a study of the “hotspots” where most water scarcity is expected to occur. The World Water Map aims to provide a scientific basis for a series of reports on water issues for a broad audience.
These two projects are a good sample of Mark Perkins’ field of research. The scientist in Utrecht sees the world and water as his field of research. It analyzes the evolution of water demand and supply on a global scale. By doing so, it essentially looks at changes over different periods and at different locations.
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