A new study reports that California’s drought is so severe it’s causing the ground to rise.
The ongoing drought in the western United States has caused so much loss of groundwater that the Earth, on average, has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months, according to a new study, stated the Los Angeles Times. The situation was even worse in the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up to 0.6 inches
Angela Fritz of The Washington Post reported scientists estimate 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost in the past 18 months. “As it turns out, 63 trillion gallons of water is pretty heavy,” Fritz wrote. “That incredible water deficit weighs nearly 240 billion tons, and as it evaporated, the ground began to shift” — in California’s mountains, by as much as half-an-inch, claimed The Washington Post.
Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the groundwater loss the equivalent of flooding four inches of water across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Times reported California’s three largest reservoirs are at roughly 30 percent capacity. Other reservoirs are doing better — far better than the statewide average of 41 percent in 1997, when a devastating drought struck the state, said Ted Thomas, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. Lake Oroville, one of California’s largest reservoirs, was at only 32 percent of its capacity, according to The Washington Post.
“We definitely have an expectation for warmer temperatures,” reported Mike Anderson, a state climatologist at the California Department of Water Resources. Warmer temperatures mean that it’s more likely precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow, predicted The Washington Post. “So years like this winter will definitely become more the norm instead of being the outlier,” he added.