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Hypothetical desert earth

  1. May 26, 2012 #1
    I found a couple of threads on the subject, but they didn't really give me the answers I was looking for.

    I'm working on a project where earth has become a global desert. The statue of liberty surrounded by wasteland, New York City barren and covered with sand, same story everywhere else on earth, basically a very dry setting. There are however pockets of water, underground lakes and rivers, where humans have built settlements which are violently contested.

    My question is are there any plausible scenarios where the amount of water on earth has been drastically reduced in a relatively short (a hundred years or so) span of time?
    I do realize that water normally doesn't just disappear, so, I was hoping somebody here could come up with a clever way to explain its absence.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2012 #2


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    Dallingtonp, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    Here is a place where science of all kinds is discussed. Members who contribute here have high levels of education, or experience, or both. We use mainstream sources like textbooks and scientific journal articles to back up our posts.

    What we do not do here is deal with science fiction. Your project seems to me to be sci-fi imaginary story. If I am mistaken, please post some reference material so others can read up on the science supporting your project.

    Edit: Click on "Rules" on the top of the page.
    Last edited: May 26, 2012
  4. May 27, 2012 #3

    And yes, it is a science fiction project. However I would like it to be plausible, so I was wondering if there were any theoretical scenarios where large amounts of water could just vanish without help from aliens or a mad scientist.
  5. May 27, 2012 #4
    How quickly do you want it to vanish?

    There is the greenhouse effect, which, taken to an extreme would lead to evaporation of water off the planet. It has been postulated that Venus started off with a similar amount of water vapour to earth but lost it due to a run-away greenhouse effect. This could be caused by a major release of CO2 into the atmosphere (say through enormous amount of volcanic activity), or could be caused by the gradual increase in solar radiation flux (the sun is slowly getting 'brighter'). However these would take a lot longer than 100yrs...
  6. May 27, 2012 #5
    There are some considerations about that in a nearly identical thread
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