Study: soil collapsing in Beijing

Jun 27, 2016, 8:42 PM EDT
(Source: zoonyzoozoodazoo/flickr)
(Source: zoonyzoozoodazoo/flickr)
A study published in Remote Sensing details how 46 cities across China are sinking into the ground. Beijing has sunk 14 inches in the last decade, and has been dropping by up to 4 inches a year. CNN reports:
 
An international study led by Beijing-based researchers has discovered that the city is dropping by as much as 11 centimeters (4 inches) in some districts per year.
 
The thirsty city has depleted its groundwater, which the study identified as the cause of the sinking.
 
Using satellite imagery and GPS data, the team analyzed topographical trends from 2003 to 2010 and found that the city, which has a population of over 20 million, was sinking at an alarming rate.
 
 
Beijing is particularly concerned about the impact the subsidence could have on the city’s trains, which transport a large number of the city’s 20 million residents each day. 
 
There could be hope for Chinese cities, however. Much of the problem is rooted in poor enforcement of groundwater pumping regulations, which offers an obvious area for improvement.
 
 
Tens of thousands of water wells are thought to exist in and around Beijing, many of them used in farming and landscaping. The state has regulatory power over installation of wells but is inconsistent in applying it, according to one leading Chinese environmentalist.
 
“There are some rules but the enforcement is doubtful,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. Ma said he wasn’t surprised subsidence was relatively high in the Chaoyang district given its rapid growth of recent decades. He expected it to keep moving east as the city sprawled in that direction.
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