NASA Satellite Images Reveal Shocking Groundwater Loss in Drought-Stricken California

Written by Anastasia Pantsios and reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) program has released a series of satellite images, taken in June 2002, June 2008 and June of this year, showing the  stunning groundwater loss in California which is in its third year of record drought.

nasamapcadrought

California's rapidily disappearing groundwater was tracked by NASA and its partners over a period of 12 years. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of California, Irvine

“This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites,” says NASA. “Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between April 2002 and June 2014.”

The prolonged drought has impacted everything from agriculture to fisheries to residential use, worsened and prolonged the wildfire season and created conflicts over the use of water resources. That has included calls for banning water-intensive fracking and disputes over the diversion of river water for the state’s even more water-intensive agriculture sector, primarily in its fertile Central Valley.

“California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins, including the Central Valley, have suffered the greatest losses, in part due to increased groundwater pumping to support agricultural production,” said NASA. “Between 2011 and 2014, the combined river basins have lost 4 trillion gallons of water each year, an amount far greater than California’s 38 million residents use in cities and homes annually.”

Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in January after the state had its lowest recorded rainfall in its history.

GRACE is a collaborative endeavor involving the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, Austin; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the German Space Agency and Germany’s National Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

93 comments

Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

The sad thing is we can never get this back and allowing the wasteful fracking to continue is going to waste what little water resource we have left and contaminate it once it is forced back into the ground. Fracking has to be stopped.

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Sarah N.
Sarah N3 years ago

wow!

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Julie Cannon
Julie Cannon3 years ago

shocking

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Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

shocking !!!

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Franck R.
Past Member 3 years ago

thank you

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Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

ty

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Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

Thank you.

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Glenda L.
Glenda L3 years ago

TY

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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

Awful...but this sad tale will be the same 4 many states/towns communities in the coming years. Fracking must really be put to pasture---STOP already.

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