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Droughts in Western US Affecting Geography

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:59AM

The droughts that have been hitting the western US in recent years are having more of an effect than probably most people would expect. Beyond the water restrictions and some dying plant life, geological data suggests the droughts have caused the entire west coast to wise a little, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego.

Across the country there are networks of highly precise GPS stations, and those along the west coast have seen an apparent uplift in recent years. More specifically the uplift has coincided with the droughts the states in the area have been suffering. Analysis of the data indicates that some of California's mountains have risen 15 mm (over half an inch) with an average of 4 mm across the west.

Crunching the numbers reveals that approximately 240 gigatons of water, or 62 trillion gallons, would have to be missing to explain the vertical shift. This opens up a new use for GPS networks as a potential means to measure water stocks across the world.

Source: University of California, San Diego

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