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Learn about freshwater on World Water Day

Multiple satellite images of earth showing the effects of climate change on different aspects of the natural world.

To celebrate World Water Day, we’re launching a new “Freshwater” hub to explore some of the ways we can take action to preserve the most important resource for life on our blue planet.

While in some parts of the world water is readily accessible and comes straight out of a tap, for the majority of the world water can be a daily preoccupation and a challenge for survival. Some need to travel long distances to access this vital resource, while others chronically deal with water contamination. Others will suffer from poor hygiene and diseases from lack of access to clean water, and many agricultural issues and food shortages are linked to water scarcity.

Data gathered by NASA over the last 20 years shows that global levels of freshwater are diminishing. Our changing climate and over consumption are reducing our freshwater supply significantly and we need to act fast to prevent a freshwater crisis.

That is why as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), many institutions have come together on Google Arts & Culture’s new “Freshwater” hub to share their knowledge.

Our new hub aims to help people learn more about freshwater ecosystems and how this precious resource is linked to climate change, while also discovering solutions to preserve it.

  • Photograph of the Nairobi river, Kibera, Kenya, polluted by rubbish and detritus including plastic bottles and bags.

    Freshwater ecosystems are very vulnerable to biological, chemical, and physical pollution created by human activities. Image of Pollution in the Nairobi river, Kibera, Kenya — GRIDA, UNEP

  • Multiple satellite images of earth showing the effects of climate change on different aspects of the natural world.

    Explore different freshwater ecosystems that are affected by climate change and human impact, and discover how satellite data provides us with accurate information to monitor the situation. Image from Space4Climate — monitoring our planet

  • Still image taken from the interactive experiment Passage of Water showing planet earth and the water loss and gain over time.

    With Passage of Water, an interactive experiment created in a collaboration between Dr Yiyun Kang, NASA and Google Arts & Culture, we see how harnessing the power of data to visualize and explain our water usage over time is an accessible way to learn about the links between water depletion and climate change, while also exploring different solutions to the problem. Image from the artwork.

Ecosystems that rely on freshwater, such as Wetlands and Peatlands are being adversely affected and their depletion means that not only will species become extinct, but it will have an effect on the adjacent land, people and our planet.

For example, carbon stored naturally in peatlands is released when these areas are dried out for agricultural use. As a result, peatlands are vulnerable to fire, exacerbating climate change and contributing to water pollution. This domino effect demonstrates how finely balanced and important these ecosystems are and how essential it is to preserve them.

There are many innovators working on methods of preserving, recycling, minimizing use of and filtering water. The Index Project gives us a few ideas, from the shower of the future to a solar powered water purification system. Discover how a village close to Jaipur is defeating drought and poverty through rainwater harvesting for crops and learn about the city designed to store and reuse water. Some are actions we can take as individuals, and others use innovative technologies at scale, but all are designed to help people sustainably utilize or access freshwater.

Perhaps exploring this site will inspire you to come up with an innovative way to save water? While you’re working on the next invention, there are simple things that we can all do to help right now. And if you’re a teacher there are lesson plans looking at climate change that you can use in the classroom or give to students as worksheets.

Learn about freshwater at and learn more about the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration here.

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