Visualizing All of the World’s Water

This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist

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The following content is sponsored by Hinrich Foundation, taken from the new report Visualizing Asia’s Water Dilemma.

The Scarcity of Freshwater

Water is an essential component of life, enabling everything from food production to electricity generation. Given its ubiquity, it’s surprising to see how scarce water actually is. For example, lakes and rivers supply the majority of our freshwater, yet they represent just 0.01% of the Earth’s total water resources. This graphic from Hinrich Foundation introduces their latest free report, Visualizing Asia’s Water Dilemma, produced in partnership with Visual Capitalist. This data-driven report provides a global overview of water scarcity, as well as a deep dive into the related geopolitical conflicts brewing throughout Asia.

The Total Volume of Water on Earth

The first visualization in this graphic breaks down all of the world’s water, based on estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey.
ResourceVolume (cubic kilometers)Percent of total water
Ice caps & glaciers24,064,0001.74
Lakes and rivers178,5200.01
When you consider the amount of water needed to produce everyday products, this isn’t very much at all. A smartphone, for example, has a water footprint of over 12,000 liters due to the pollutants from production that must be diluted. To see a visual breakdown of the water footprint of everyday products, download the free report.

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