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Drought that has been plaguing life in California and the western US has resulted in rise of Earth’s crust, leading to creation of mountains.
According to researchers, the drought has caused overall drop in water levels, leading to rise of Earth’s crust to one-sixth of an inch since last year.
The drought in California and Western US is a year and a half now and since then it has depleted 63 trillion gallons of water across the Western US, a report in The Los Angeles Times said, citing a new study on how the parched conditions are altering the landscape.
The scientists from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the US Geological Survey said that the loss of groundwater and surface water sources like reservoirs has been so extreme in the said duration that it lifted the Earth’s surface in the West by an average of one-sixth of an inch since last year.
The uplift of the Earth’s crust is the largest in the Western US since the use of GPS data began 10 years ago. However, the good news is that there is no indication that the uplift will trigger earthquakes.
Holding elastic compression as the reason behind the rising ground levels, Seismologist Klaus Jacob from Colombia University said, “Groundwater is a load on the Earth’s crust. The crust is compressed elastically by the load due to which it subsides. When you take that load away, in this case by drought the crust decompresses, leading to rise of the surface.
Jacob was not the part of the study.
The data from global positioning system (GPS) stations throughout the West were collected by the researchers and then were measured how much GPS sensors showed the crust had risen beneath them. Researchers noted that 2013 had been most significant as the most movement occurred in that period. And the condition worsened as the 2014 proceeded due to the droughts.
Study co-author Duncan Agnew, a professor at Scripps, said, “The implications of this have yet to play out, What we’ve shown is that there is a measurement technique we can use to get a total water loss — water loss in places where we have no direct measurements.”
The study was published in the journal Science.