Loss of groundwater is causing China's capital city to sink by as much as four inches per year in some districts, according to research published in the journal Remote Sensing.
Researchers identified excessive use of underground water as the cause. In Beijing, water is extracted from soil for industrial, agricultural and household use, CNN explains.
Beijing, home to more than 20 million people, is considered one of the most water stressed cities in the world, the study notes. The depletion of water and rapid sinking could have severe consequences for the city's infrastructure, including damage to buildings and public railways.
The study used satellite images and GPS to analyze topographical trends collected between 2003 and 2010.
Researchers said that the Chaoyang district, which includes many hotels and office buildings from Beijing’s Central Business District, is the most afflicted area, the Telegraph reports.
Officials in Beijing have taken several measures in an attempt to alleviate the city's water issues. A series of canals and tunnels called the South-North Water Diversion was developed to bring nearly 12 trillion gallons of water to the capital annually. The city also plans to phase out 367 water wells, according to the Guardian.