How Much Water is on Earth?
The ocean from St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands.
CREDIT: William B. Folsom, NOAA
If you poured all the world’s water on the United States and could contain it, you’d create a lake 90 miles deep.
How much water is that? Roughly 326 million cubic miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Some 72 percent of Earth is covered in water, but 97 percent of that is salty and no good for drinking. So, some facts about the freshwater:
- 70 percent of freshwater is locked in ice caps
- Less than 1 percent of the world’s freshwater is readily accessible
- 6 countries (Brazil, Russia, Canada, Indonesia, China and Colombia) have 50 percent of the freshwater reserves
- One-third of the world’s population lives in “water-stressed” countries
There is much more freshwater stored in the ground than there is in liquid form on the surface, according to the USGS.
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