July 18, 2019

How long it will take to refill our deepest lake

Take a regular glass and place it under your tap. If the water pressure is high enough, it will fill up in 1 second.
We'll take this speed - 1 glass per second - as a base to understand how much water the rivers actually carry.
If you leave the tap open for just 90 minutes, you will get about 1 m3 of water - enough for you to drink for a whole year. And in 24 hours the tap will be able to fill 140 full bathtubs - a 17-year water supply for a human.
20 months (over 1.5 years) worth of tap water is the same amount that the Volga (the biggest river in Europe) carries in just 1 second.
But... wait a second. A Chinese river Yangtze is 3 times bigger than the Volga, African river Congo - almost 6 times bigger - it is so big, in fact, that in just 3 minutes it can give a 12-month water supply for the entire mankind.
And yet, it's not the biggest river by far - the Amazon river is. It is 25 times bigger than the Volga and 4 times bigger than the Congo river, which means that your tap should be open for 42 years to match the amount of water that passes through the Amazon in 1 second.
Wow. That's a lot. But trust me, even the Amazon river is just a tiny spring when you think at a planetary scale.

Meet Lake Baikal - the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It contains 22% of the world's fresh surface water - more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined. Baikal is also the world's deepest and oldest lake.
Imagine that all the water from it has disappeared and we need to fill it again. So let's take all the rivers on the planet: Amazon, Congo, Yangtze, Mississippi, Nile and hundreds of others and magically point them towards the hole in the ground left from what used to be Lake Baikal.

It would take all the rivers in the world a whole year to fill up Lake Baikal, which is
26 000 000 000 000 000 litres. Your tap at home would have a hard time. It would need 4.5 billion years to complete this task.
4.5 billion years is roughly how long the Earth exists. And the first dinosaurs appeared "only" 200 million years ago.

Imagine, that if when the first dinosaur was born, Lake Baikal would start leaking with a speed of tap, it would still have 95% of its water today.

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