Are there untapped sources of freshwater to be harvested?

Published - December 24, 2022 08:10 pm IST

An almost limitless supply of fresh water exists in the form of water vapour above Earth’s oceans, yet remains untapped, researchers said. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests an investment in new infrastructure capable of harvesting oceanic water vapor as a solution to limited supplies of fresh water in various locations around the world.

The researchers evaluated 14 water-stressed locations across the globe for the feasibility of a hypothetical structure capable of capturing water vapour from above the ocean and condensing it into fresh water — and do so in a manner that will remain feasible in the face of continued climate change. They performed atmospheric and economic analyses of the placement of hypothetical offshore structures 210 metres in width and 100 metres in height.

Through their analyses, the researchers concluded that capturing moisture over ocean surfaces is feasible for many water-stressed regions worldwide. The estimated water yield of the proposed structures could provide fresh water for large population centres in the subtropics. One of the more elegant features of this proposed solution is that it works like the natural water cycle.

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