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Old 08-29-2013, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Montreal, Quebec
15,087 posts, read 11,528,893 times
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Quote:

Constant? Not if the water is completely removed from the Earth, in which
case the amount of water on the Earth then becomes decreased. For example, the
bags containing the bodily waste nappies left on the Moon include feces and
urine, both of which contain water, albeit a very small amount. Regardless, that
water is no longer available on Earth.
Yeah, leave it to humans to leave litter on the moon. It doesn't bode well.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:24 PM
 
4,990 posts, read 7,767,967 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weltschmerz View Post
Yeah, leave it to humans to leave litter on the moon. It doesn't bode well.
HAHAHA! Yes, you're right. We left pee-soaked nappys with poo on the Moon. It's considered as historical artifacts.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,694,073 times
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The current most believeable causes is struck by huge meteor and loose its magnetic shield and blown by solar wind. Google it.
Takes too long, re: the OP's book premise. Also, asteroid impact kills everyone & negates premise of book. Even if the core dynamo were to (magically) shut down today, it would take millions of years for ionizing radiation to eliminate our surface volatiles. Also there would be no more atmosphere.

Have the earth get hit by a giant asteroid. One large enough to slow the rotation of the planet enough to lessen gravity
Haha... what?? Can you please explain your theroy of gravitation which involves the force of gravity being proportional to the speed of rotation of the object? By your proposal, just unfreezing the polar caps should be enough to have all Earth's water go flying off into space at these points of zero angular velocity.

Oh, "science" forum, how I love thee...

when mankind used a series of thermo nuclear explosions in sequence to speed up the earth's rotation there was almost no water left.
Explosive force great enough to change Earth's rotation by even 5%, would totally destroy everything on the surface of the planet, fracture the crust, and generally obliterate the premise of the proposed book along with the idea of plausibility.

Last edited by sponger42; 08-29-2013 at 05:25 PM.. Reason: Fixed it
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:51 PM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
3,738 posts, read 6,220,655 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weltschmerz View Post
Perhaps you can incorporate a Supervillain who stole our water, or an alien race which siphoned it off for fracking on other planets.
President Skroob and Dark Helmet are on the way with Robomaid. The combination is 1-2-3-4, the same an idiot (and Skroob himself) would have on their luggage. However, Lone Start can't be there to make Robomaid go from suck to blow, thus giving the Earth it's water back. Hmmm.
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:05 AM
 
Location: PORT ANGELES, WA
806 posts, read 1,956,596 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecynicalmonk View Post
Hi everyone

I'm hoping that someone with more scientific knowledge than I can help me with this... Or perhaps I'm in the wrong place...

I'm writing a novel set in a possible future Earth where all the oceans have dried up and water is very scarce. The history behind this is based on the idea that (as is presently the case) ocean levels are rising due to global warming, and something has to be done to stop it. As time goes on the process accelerates as the ice caps melt faster than expected.

By the end of the 21st century there is a massive worldwide campaign to take drastic action so that major cities aren't flooded. And so the human race, in its short-sightedness, begins to convert sea water into drinking water and for agricultural use. (I know that this is incredibly difficult to do quickly but let's imagine there is advanced technology to desalinate water quickly).

The plan works - much better than expected -and in fact sea water levels drop enormously in just twenty years. But as ocean levels drop, so does production of atmospheric water vapour, making rainfall less and less common. In just a few more decades water becomes scarce and scientists experiment with ways of synthesising water with other elements.

The oceans are now completely dry, barren and charred deserts. Sun radiation levels reach unprecedented heights. It is impossible to go out into the sunshine without a protective suit. The human race lives in protective domes and becomes nocturnal.

Anyway that is the setting for the story. Without boring you with the details of the actual story itself, what I want to ask, to all you scientists out there is: How plausible is this? Could there be a situation where the oceans dried up and rainfall ended? I know that as we consume water we also excrete it into back into the system, but are there any circumstances where this process dries up and we are left with a barren, scorched and dry Earth?

Thank you for any help!

This is going to be a very short story.. Everything is going to shrivel up and die...SAD
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:08 PM
 
22 posts, read 17,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Pumping water to a high altitude so it can disperse into space:
1. Unfeasable due to the energy required, and the impossiblility of supporting such an enormous piping structure. I guess you could call it an active structure and use the force of the water to self-support the structure, but it's still kind of BS. And a really really dumb use of technology.
2. >99% of the water evaporated would simply re-enter the biosphere. You would have to pump it up to escape velocity (about 9 km/s, or mach 30+ to the layman) which would take even more energy.
Draining the oceans into drinking/farming water:
1. Water is still in the biosphere. We drink it, pee it out, it goes through treatment plants (or not), into rivers, back into the ocean. Even if you had the 800 trillion people necessary to consume that much water, it's still all in the biosphere.
Turning water into rock:
This is slightly more feasable. There are certain crystaline hydrates which "lock" up water in solid form. However, you can still recover the water through chemical and physical processing. I don't know if the process of creating such hydrates is exothemic or endothermic. You could possibly say that a process was discovered to generate energy by turning water into rocky hydrates. Humans used up all the water creating energy, and now don't have enough energy to convert the water back. This is REALLY far-fetched, though.

You could also rehash the old Ice-9 plot, where all the water in the world is (almost instantaneously) transformed into a hydrate by the invention of Ice-9, a more-stable crystalline state for H2O than it's three known states. Of course, Ice-9 kills everyone who touches it, so you would have giant deadly ice-9 deserts instead of empty seas. I don't think that's what you want.

Compressing water and shipping it off to the colonial words:
LOL, water is, by definition, incompressible. And it's not size that matters (as much) but rather mass. You would need to accelerate the majority of the world's water to the aforementioned 9 km/s. If we could do that, we could probably just go out and tow back ice asteroids to replace what we shipped off-planet. Or just use ice asteroids in the first place. Honestly, if we had the energy or technology to do that, we'd be so god-like I don't think you'd be able to write the scenario you want.
Big hole in the ocean.
As others have said, you would just increase rainfall, not destroy water. And the localized cooling of the mantle would probably cause huge tectonic disruptions. I don't think this fits in your scenario. Also, the hole is impossible to dig. Maybe a meteor impact. Again, not the world you want to write about.
Lots of small holes down to unreachable caverns
Basic physics prevents this. As others have said, the water boils due to heating from the mantle. It's impossible to force it to stay down there, even two or three miles; easily drill-able distances. Also, there is not enough volume to contain the water without excavation on an impossible scale. Again, if we could do that, we would be gods and negate the premise of your book.

Finally, some "realistic" suggestions in keeping with your desired theme:
Wormhole/Black Hole
Scientists develop a way to warp space (currently being researched) to connect two places together which are physically distant in space/time. For some bizarre reason, this amazing technology is used to put a wormhole in the bottom of the ocean, with the other end connecting to Mars, deep space, the Gamma Quadrant, the year 3712, or what-have-you. Oceans get mostly drained away, viola! Desert planet.

I guess you could say that people were trying to lower sea levels a little bit by putting he wormhole in the ocean, but this is really dumb. If the technology worked, it would find a lot more uses before lowering sea levels, even if NYC were about to drown.

A more plausible scenario is that the wormhole was created in a lab, but the scientists immediately lost control and it drifted into the ocean on it's own. This is also stupid, because the first experiments would be to connect one end of the lab to the other with a wormhole, not jump straight to wormholing to the 300'th century, deep space, or wherever. But let's just say their calculations were wildly off, and they meant to build a tiny gateway across the lab, ended up building a huge one across the universe.

Alternately, if you want something even more plausible with modern-day or near-future technology (but still ridiculous), you could say that the CERN supercollider, in the search for the Higgs Boson (still ongoing) generated a black hole. (Actually has happened). Rather than be tiny, unstable, and evaporating within seconds, this black hole got bigger, but stabilized at some intermediate size (rather than growing enough to swallow the entire planet, then the solar system), and migrated into the ocean, somehow. It then proceeded to drain the oceans, same as the wormhole. Once this was done, it disappated. Of course, the current estimation of black holes indicate that the water would (explosively) be returned to Earth upon the destruction of the black hole, but nobody really knows, (or if they do, they haven't figured out a way to explain it to most laymen) so you could treat it like a big bathtub drain to dimension-x if you wanted. Also, this black hole would suck in all the air as well. Everybody dead. Or maybe it "rolled" into the ocean (from Switzerland!) before it could swallow all the air.

Actually here, this is the best one: A miniscule stable black hole was generated. It slowly absorbed a tiny bit of air, as it was stable on the microscopic level. It was too small or too weak to absorb solid matter (it's gravitational attraction was weaker than the chemical bonds of solids, but stronger than the chemical bonds of water molecules. The dust-mote black hole drifted, unnoticed, into a sink, toilet, or floor drain at CERN. At some point it got flushed into a river. Now, the black hole is eating water and gaining mass/size. It "floats" down to the sea, still enlarging and sucking in water. It eventually sinks to one of the deepest parts of the ocean, continues to drain the water levels. Over the years it gets bigger and the drop in sea levels increases. Finally, when it's drained the majority of the world's water, it is exposed to air. At it's present size it is no longer stable unless immersed in liquid and *poof* it evaporates to dimension-X along with all the water.

This is still total nonsense, of course. The black hole would eventully start absorbing solid matter as well, and destroy the world, but most people could suspend that level of disbelief, I think. But maybe the wormhole scenario is best...

In these scenarios, quite a bit of water would remain in the Med. and other isolated bodies of water, once they were drained below a certain level. Quite a bit, but not enough. Your water-hoarding scenario could take place. Maybe whoever claims ownership of the Med. uses the economic influence of being the biggest water-lender around to consolidate their holdings and drain/take control of all the other remaining sources (Great Lakes, Black Sea, etc.)
Superb post, Sponger42! Some great ideas and also a practical scientific take on the options available... Thanks!
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Sloooowcala Florida
1,381 posts, read 2,542,690 times
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Sounds like a good story.. How about because of intense pollution on earth another molecule (you get to pick which one) has formed a permanent bond with each water molecule and now most of the earth's water that is left on the planet has turned into some sort of solid mass or rock that cannot be converted back using the current technology of your book's time... It's a fiction book, so that's my suggestion.
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
3,738 posts, read 6,220,655 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smartygurl View Post
Sounds like a good story.. How about because of intense pollution on earth another molecule (you get to pick which one) has formed a permanent bond with each water molecule and now most of the earth's water that is left on the planet has turned into some sort of solid mass or rock that cannot be converted back using the current technology of your book's time... It's a fiction book, so that's my suggestion.
Or all water on Earth could just become so polluted that it is permanently toxic. Therefore we don't need a reason for water to mysteriously disappear, it any water left is completely unusable. The extra molecule thing is interesting for this so that even 'purifying' the water leaves it toxic and unusable.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:11 AM
 
22 posts, read 17,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Turning water into rock:
This is slightly more feasable. There are certain crystaline hydrates which "lock" up water in solid form. However, you can still recover the water through chemical and physical processing. I don't know if the process of creating such hydrates is exothemic or endothermic. You could possibly say that a process was discovered to generate energy by turning water into rocky hydrates. Humans used up all the water creating energy, and now don't have enough energy to convert the water back. This is REALLY far-fetched, though.
Sponger42... (or anyone else who knows...)

I really like this idea... it is very close to what I'm after (however far-fetched it is)!
I have another question: You say that "Humans used up all the water creating energy, and now don't have enough energy to convert the water back" - how exactly would they turn the solid water back into liquid? Would it just be a question of energy or could some other element or substance achieve this? In particular, would it be in any way even remotely, theoretically feasible for a "special" block of ice to be the key, in some way or other, to returning the water to its liquid state?
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:22 AM
 
22 posts, read 17,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Wormhole/Black Hole
Scientists develop a way to warp space (currently being researched) to connect two places together which are physically distant in space/time. For some bizarre reason, this amazing technology is used to put a wormhole in the bottom of the ocean, with the other end connecting to Mars, deep space, the Gamma Quadrant, the year 3712, or what-have-you. Oceans get mostly drained away, viola! Desert planet.
How about if the wormhole was used as a way to TRANSPORT water from Earth to another planet, e.g. Mars, which was going to be colonised (the Earth is now rather past its best as you can gather)? The wormhole could have been created in the ocean but the maths were miscalculated, and a VAST amount of water was sent away instead of the amount required.

Do you think water could be transported down a wormhole?

It could even inadvertently have been sent to a place like Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, which many scientists believe does have an iced ocean on its surface. Imagine those who had already colonised Europa suddenly finding a massive torrent of Earth sea water crashing down upon their moon (which already had plenty of water, thank you very much)!

Again, thanks for your ideas!
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