Friday, January 8, 2010

California's gravity and groundwater

With 1.2 quadrillion gallons, Wisconsin is groundwater rich. Yet our sizable supply is not infinite. According to the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council's 2009 Report to the Legislature, groundwater use was estimated during 2005 to be 986 million gallons per day -- 380 million gallons per day greater than withdrawals estimated for 1979 (p. 91). While Wisconsin remains groundwater rich, we're using more each year.

Wisconsin isn't alone in accelerating groundwater use. Using gravity-sensing satellites, a new report offers insights into the increasing rate of groundwater depletion in California's Central Valley.

Using data collected by NASA's GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, which can discern and measure the movements of water both above and below the ground by detecting minute changes in gravity, the San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins lost more than 31 cubic kilometers of water between October 2003 and March 2009. A cubic kilometer is about 264.2 billion gallons, enough to fill 400,000 Olympic-size pools.

Since 2003, the Central Valley -- and its major mountain water source -- the Sierra Nevadas -- have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.

Read more about the findings:

NASA Data Reveal Major Groundwater Loss in California