A strange, slow-motion NASA video shows what Earth would look like if all the water drained from the oceans.
Planetary scientist James O’Donoghue, who works at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and formerly worked at NASA, recently remade the video by editing the timing and adding a tracker to show how much water drains throughout the animation.
The original video was created by NASA physicist and animator Horace Mitchell in 2008.
“I slowed down the start since, rather surprisingly, there’s a lot of undersea landscape instantly revealed in the first tens of meters,” O’Donoghue told Business Insider in an email.
Every living thing on earth would die, since water is a large component of all known living cells, every plant, animal, fungus, etc would all dessicate completely, and crumble to dust.
With all water vapor gone from the atmosphere, the sky might change color, and become a reddish tint due to the high oxygen content. Without water vapor acting as a greenhouse gas, the surface temperature would drop substantially, maybe even to below freezing temperatures, but that wouldn’t matter as much with nothing left to freeze.
The oceans would be laid bare, dwarfing the Grand Canyon so utterly as to make it a joke, but the ocean floor would be extremely bright, covered under several inches to feet of salt that snowed down to the floor when the water disappeared. What was known as the main island of Hawaii is now just the summit of Mauna Kea, the new tallest mountain on earth.
Even the what we once called the continents would look completely different. With all underground aquifers and reservoirs suddenly dry, massive sinkholes would open up all over the world, giving the continents a permanently pockmarked look.
As time went on, the world would take on a reddish tint, like Mars, as a thin layer of oxidized dust settled over everything, constantly distributed and deposited by the wind.
There would still be wind, as the atmosphere would be heated by sunlight, but no weather anymore. Just the occasional bolt of lightning or sheet lightning, when the atmosphere builds enough charge.
The new red face of the earth would only be marred by the eruption of volcanoes on the surface which would look from orbit, much more violent and frequent than it does now, without the oceans there to hide all the once underwater volcanoes where new sea floors are made. In what was the North Pacific, Tamu Massif would now be visible, a volcano formation on earth comparable in size to Olympus Mons on Mars.
Finally, the world would remain this way forever, no new life ever appearing again, unless a series of lucky comets carrying massive amounts of ice struck the earth and restored the Hydrosphere, incredibly unlikely now that the solar system is established and Earth’s gravity well cleared its close vicinity long ago. Still, with several billion more years to go in the life of the solar system, the possibility of that happening is not zero. That’s what would happen if all the water on Earth disappeared.
How often do you think about water? Only when your thirsty? When going fishing or swimming?
Water is everywhere, even in the desert.
The most essential part of life
First of all, the human body is composed of 70 percent water. While the human body can endure a month without food, it can only go a week without water. Likewise, all plants and animals need water to survive.
Animals and plants, including humans, obtain most of their water from rivers, lakes and groundwater–the main sources of freshwater on earth. Amazingly, this accessible freshwater only comprises one percent of all the water on earth. Ninety-nine percent of earth’s water is unusable to us.
The majority of water is salt water (97.5 percent). Freshwater accounts for only 2.5 percent of total water and of that 68.6 percent is locked in glaciers and icecaps (mainly Greenland and Antarctica), 30.1 percent is groundwater and the remaining 1.3 percent is surface water and other freshwater sources (such as atmospheric water).
If all the water on earth was contained in a gallon jug, the freshwater available to us would be about one tablespoon (less than one percent). Rivers and lakes only constitute a small portion of all the water in the world and one lake, Lake Baikal, contains 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen freshwater. Located in southeast Siberia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (over 5,000 feet) and the most voluminous freshwater lake.
In regards to water, the earth is a closed system, much like a terrarium. The earth doesn’t gain or lose water, except for the occasional incoming meteor. The same water molecules that were on earth millions of years ago are still present today. The water coming from your faucet may have eroded part of the Grand Canyon or been ingested by a woolly mammoth.
On average, during a 100-year period a single water molecule (H20) will spend 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, two weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere.
Water is unique in that it is the only substance naturally found on earth in all three forms: liquid, solid and gas. How many naturally occurring liquids can you think of that don’t contain water?
No water, No Ice
What would the world be like without ice? No ice fishing, glaciers or ice cubes. What if ice didn’t float? There would be no polar ice cap. Since water expands when it freezes, it becomes less dense than liquid water and floats (unlike other liquids).
Water vapor in the atmosphere only comprises 0.001 percent of total water. Without water in the atmosphere, there wouldn’t be the formation of clouds or precipitation. Ninety percent of atmospheric water comes from evaporation of surface water and the other ten percent comes from transpiration by plants.
Water is an integral part of earth: from the plants and animals it sustains to the land it erodes through water and ice. Earth would be a desolate place without water.
Due to desertification, we are already losing extreme amounts of fresh water:
- 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
- Land degradation affects 1,5 billion people globally.
- Arable land loss estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
- Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares [NB: 1 hectare = 10,000 square meters] are lost (23 hectares/minute!), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.
- 74% of the poor (42% of the very and 32% of the moderately poor) are
- directly affected by land degradation globally.