The western United States' worst drought in possibly 500 years is causing the ground to rise up like an uncoiling spring.
The western United States’ worst drought in possibly 500 years is causing the ground to rise up like an uncoiling spring.

This research and it’s findings are mind boggling and deeply disturbing. The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape in ways that we can’t see like the brown lawns. Scientists have discovered that the massive loss of groundwater has caused a tectonic uplift of more than half an inch in some areas and is causing the entire western US to rise up like an uncoiled spring.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are studying ground positioning data from GPS stations throughout the west and they have found that the water shortage is causing an “uplift” effect up to 15 millimeters (more than half an inch) in California’s mountains and on average four millimeters (0.15 of an inch) across the west. From the GPS data, they estimate the water deficit at nearly 240 gigatons (62 trillion gallons of water), equivalent to a six-inch layer of water spread out over the entire western U.S.

While poring through various sets of data of ground positions from highly precise GPS stations within the National Science Foundation’s Plate Boundary Observatory and other networks, researchers kept noticing the same pattern over the 2003-2014 period: All of the stations moved upwards in the most recent years, coinciding with the timing of the current drought.

140821141542-largeThe results paint a new picture of the dire hydrological state of the west and quantify the amount of water mass lost in the past few years.

The study was supported by USGS National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and done by theUniversity of California – San Diego

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140821141542.htm