Whether you are a climate change believer or not, the effects of extreme weather on the earth are beginning to reap alarming consequence throughout the western United States. Around 63 trillion gallons of water are estimated to have been lost in the region since the beginning of 2013, according to a study conducted by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey. Even more disturbing is that the study claims that this loss of water is literally causing the earth to rise to higher levels because of the loss of weight.
Researches from the team — including Adrian Brosa, Duncan Agnew and Dan Cavan — parsed data from several GPS stations scattered around the western region. Their conclusion? Evaporating groundwater has made California’s mountains up to 15mm (more than half an inch) taller. In the rest of the West, ground was estimated to have swelled around 4mm (0.15 inches). Agnew stated that mountain ranges were especially prone to the effect.
We found that it’s most severe in California, particularly in the Sierras. It’s predominantly in the Coast Ranges and the Sierras showing the most uplift, and hence, that’s where we believe is the largest water loss.
While the study focused on the fact that the earth is moving upward, the drought is troubling in itself. The 63 trillion gallons of water lost in the drought in the last year and a half would equal a full four inches of water lost if it was spread flatly across the United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, reported The Los Angeles Times.
The uplift from the 63 trillion gallon loss itself, however, is far from uniform. In the Great Basin Desert and the dry state of Nevada, the evaporation was significantly less than in California’s mountain ranges. Agnew noted that this was in line with scientific principles.
You can only lose water where there’s water to lose.
Rampant dependency on water has become a more focal point of environmental advocacy groups more so than ever in recent years as drought has threatened water supplies in even developed countries such as the U.S. Americans use nearly 400 billion gallons of water every day as a whole, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In Europe, the average household uses nearly half of the amount as Americans. On average, American households use around 100,000 gallons per year — meaning the 63 trillion gallon loss amounts to nearly half a year of total water use and multiple years worth of household use.
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