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AGU journal highlights -- March 7, 2011
Date:3/7/2011

1. California rapidly depleting Central Valley groundwater

Groundwater is being depleted in California's Central Valley at a rapid rate, according to data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite. Famiglietti et al. analyze 78 months of GRACE data covering October 2003 to March 2010 to estimate water storage changes in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. They find that the basins are losing water at a rate of about 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) per year equivalent water height, or a total of about 30 cubic kilometers (7.2 cubic miles) over the 78-month period. Furthermore, they find that two thirds of this loss, or a total of 20 cubic km (4.8 cubic mi) for the study period, came from groundwater depletion in the Central Valley. Quantifying groundwater depletion can be challenging in many areas because of a lack of monitoring infrastructure and reporting requirements; the study shows that satellite-based monitoring can be a useful way to track groundwater volumes. The authors warn that the current rate of groundwater depletion in the Central Valley may be unsustainable and could have "potentially dire consequences for the economic and food security of the United States."

Source: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046442, 2011
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046442

Title: Satellites measure recent rates of groundwater depletion in California's Central Valley

Authors: J. S. Famiglietti and M. Lo: UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling, University of California, Irvine, California, USA; and Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, California, USA;

S. L. Ho: Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, California, USA; and Marine Environmental Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA;<
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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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