c. Modeling and managing fossil aquifers in vulnerable environments

With its expertise, the Survey is well positioned to seek opportunities to study a broad range of hydrology and water-resources-related issues including environmental and health problems. Its modeling expertise will help in managing the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS), the world’s largest known fossil water aquifer system, located in the eastern end of the Sahara Desert. This aquifer, estimated to contain 150,000 km3 of groundwater, spans a land area of over 2 million km2 that includes Sudan, Chad, Libya and Egypt.2 Due to ongoing civil conflict, Darfur in Sudan is experiencing concentration of population that has resulted in high local demand for water.3 The rainfall in the region is limited to only 4 months a year and the geologic conditions limit any storage of groundwater. The USGS has the capacity to provide the expertise needed to develop and manage a sustainable water supply in vulnerable environments such as Darfur and the Bari Karb, Afghanistan; such assistance would not only alleviate a humanitarian crisis but it could also serve U.S. foreign policy goals.

7. WATER AND ECOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN COLD REGIONS SENSITIVE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Warming in permafrost areas may result in decreases in permafrost content with potential for large negative impacts on global climate. Possible mitigation efforts require a better understanding of these impacts and feedbacks. USGS efforts to improve such understanding could include partnering with science agencies in

  • countries working in Antarctica;
  • Canada; and
  • Russia, where the largest cold-region area on Earth in Siberia will be affected by impending climate change.

8. COMPREHENSIVE ENHANCEMENT OF AND ACCESSIBILITY TO TOPOGRAPHIC AND GEOLOGIC MAP INFORMATION

Topographic mapping is required for all place-based business, for infrastructure development, for smart-phone access to all georeferenced information, and to guide resource, security, public health, and heritage activity. In addition to enhancing topographic information for these uses, an urgent need exists to accelerate reconciliation and accessibility of the geologic mapping that is essential for all Earth science activity.

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2 See www-naweb.iaea.org/napc/ih/IHS_projects_nubian.html.

3 See www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sudan_darfuroverview.html.



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