Study Finds Beijing Is Sinking Four Inches Per Year
Is one of the world’s most famous cities sinking? That’s the theory put forward in a new international study published by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The group claims that Chinese capital Beijing is dropping by nearly 11 centimeters (4 inches) per year.
Using satellite imagery and GPS data, researchers were able to track the city’s changing typography from 2003 to 2010. The city’s central districts of Chaoyang, Changping, Shunyi, and Tongzhou are the most affected.
The Beijing-based researchers attribute the phenomena to the depletion of the city’s underground water supply. Groundwater is the city’s main water source, providing nearly two thirds of the 3.5 billion liters of water that the city goes through each year, according to estimates from the Chinese media outlet Sina.
CNN detailed exactly how the study claims the sinking occurred, and the threat it poses to China’s future:
“As the water, which has accumulated over thousands of years, is extracted in increasingly greater volumes, the now-dried up soil compacts. The rapid sinking could affect buildings and public works projects, including the city’s rail network. China has long had problems managing its voracious consumption of water. Five years ago, historic droughts in southern China caused billions of dollars in losses to agriculture and left millions of people and animals short of drinking water.”
The Chinese government has been working hard to fix the problem, investing in huge infrastructure projects to attempt to relieve shortage in some of the most affected regions.