Report: Trillions of Gallons Lost in Western U.S. Droughts


A stunning new report indicates that more than 63 trillion gallons of groundwater have been lost—primarily in the U.S. West—in recent droughts, literally causing the ground to rise.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography said the Western U.S. has lost so much water, that it's equivalent to a flood of four inches across the West. Scientists also said the loss of water was equivalent to the annual loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet.

"It's predominantly in the Coast Ranges and Sierras showing the most uplift, and hence, that's where we believe is the largest water loss," said co-author Duncan Agnew.

As a result, the Western U.S. has also experienced a "massive uplift," according to the study, because ground water traditionally weighs down the earth's crust; but without the water, the earth has been rising.

"The earth is an elastic material just like a block of rubber. If you put a water load on it, the earth deforms; if you take the water away, the earth will come back," said co-author Adrian Borsa.