Dried Up: Lakes, Rivers and Other Bodies of Water Disappearing Fast

By Eric Zerkel
Published: April 26, 2014

Bodies of Water That Are Disappearing Quick

Where Water Stresses Pose the Greatest Threats

Where Water Stresses Pose the Greatest Threats

A sign from wetter times in Bakersfield, Calif., warns people not to dive from a bridge over the Kern River, which has been dried up by water diversion projects and little rain, on Feb. 4, 2014. (David McNew/Getty Images)

  • Where Water Stresses Pose the Greatest Threats
  • 18) Yellow River, China
  • 17) Liao He River, China
  • 16) Rio Grande, United States
  • 15) Palar River, India
  • 14) Colorado River, United States
  • 13) Daliao He River, China
  • 12) Indus River, Central Asia
  • 11) Bengawan Solo River, Indonesia
  • 10) Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan
  • 9) Rio Maipo, Chile
  • 8) Sirdaryo River, Kazakhstan
  • 7) Helmand River, Afghanistan
  • 6) Sabamarti River, India
  • 5) Tuhai River, China
  • 4) Harirud River, Afghanistan
  • 3) Brantas River, Indonesia
  • 2) Yongding River, China
  • 1) Qom River (Namak Lake), Iran

Mankind's insatiable thirst for water resources in recent decades has pushed our most precious natural resource to the brink. Bodies of water, stressed by human consumption, are disappearing quicker than we ever imagined. Many of the world's largest rivers have become victimized by water demand. In fact, as the slideshow above shows, 18 of the world's mightiest rivers are undergoing "extremely high" water stress, meaning more than 80 percent of their flow is withdrawn each year.

Couple water demand with a grim forecast for more severe droughts due to climate change, and the stress on some bodies of water becomes too much to bear. Ancient shorelines are retreating and leaving behind death and decay in the place of once thriving wetland ecosystems.

Click through for a look at just a few of the world's water sources that are dying out at record pace.

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