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GPS stations show drought has cost 63 trillion gallons of water

by GPS4US 2014-08-25 10:06

As California waits for its drought to mercifully end – not that there are any signs it will –
researchers are using GPS stations to uncover how bad the drought really is throughout the region.

GPS sensors normally used for earthquake predictions have allowed scientists at the Scripps Institution
of Oceanography to estimate that the drought has caused the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water,
according to a new study.

That’s enough water to cover the region with four inches of water, the study says.

The GPS stations show that the earth’s crust has risen 4 millimeters since last year and as much as 15
millimeters in California’s mountains.

The earth’s crust usually sags under the weight of snow and rain during the winter and rises a bit
during drier months in the summer. However, even when adjusting for seasonal variations, scientists
call the rising crust in the west a “massive uplift.”

What’s also interesting is the role GPS played in the research. Scientists understand that the Earth’s
crust is elastic, and expect the tiny sags and rises that come each year. But because GPS can detect
such minute shifts, scientists could recognize the abnormal effect the drought is having on the area
west of the Rocky Mountains.

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