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California and the Gravity of Environmental AbuseViews: 475
Feb 02, 2010 5:28 pmCalifornia and the Gravity of Environmental Abuse#

Ken Hilving
"...wells for drinking water and irrigation pull water out of aquifers faster than they can naturally recharge. Now, using gravity-measuring satellites, NASA and California researchers have documented the extent of water loss in Californiaís Central Valley, and the results arenít good.

The measurements show the amount of water lost in the two main Central Valley river basins within the past six years could almost fill the nationís largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada [AP]. The total is about 30 cubic kilometer; one cubic km contains more than 264 billion gallons of water.

The team used the GRACE satellites to measure tiny fluctuations in the planetís gravitational field. Researchers have used these satellites to track changes in ice sheets, but turning these orbiters on California allowed them to see how much the pull on the planet had lessened there, and thus how much water had been lost from the ground." http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/12/16/gravity-satellites-show-a-huge-groundwater-loss-in-california (might not be available without subscription)

On the plus side, a lessoning of border controls might just let enough illegal immigrants in from Mexico to offset the loss of water mass. No word on whether the legalization of medical marijuana use has contributed to the apparent lightening of the state.

Considering the obesity problem in the US, some are surprised to learn the state has been losing rather than gaining mass. However, this may be a relative effect countered by greater obesity levels along the US east coast.

In addition to the loss of groundwater, the loss of gravity may also be an unintended consequence of Californians shifting their preferences to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

An alternative theory is that the rest of the Earth finds California less attractive for any number of reasons.


Private Reply to Ken Hilving

Feb 02, 2010 6:37 pmre: California and the Gravity of Environmental Abuse#

Thomas Holford
Ken Hilving:

> The measurements show the amount of water lost in the two main Central Valley river basins within the past six years could almost fill the nationís largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada [AP]. The total is about 30 cubic kilometer; one cubic km contains more than 264 billion gallons of water.

There is abundant water in the Rocky Mountains and in the Canadian north.

It is politics and ONLY politics that prevents the construction of the irrigation systems that would solve this ground water problem and turn Califonia's central valley into a productive agricultural Eden.

Private Reply to Thomas Holford

Feb 03, 2010 11:20 pmre: California and the Gravity of Environmental Abuse#

Ron Sam
ref material from MWD on Socal water


"" .... In-lieu replenishment allows most member agencies to participate in groundwater replenishment without
needing direct access to replenishment facilities. Their wells, in effect, become their replenishment
facilities. Both direct and in-lieu replenishment from 1986 through 1990 served the region well during
the critical drought years from 1991 through 1993. ....""

Private Reply to Ron Sam

Feb 05, 2010 8:55 amre: California and the Gravity of Environmental Abuse#

James Booth
Related to "Cafilornia + water"

From an e-mail today ...

Subject: Precip Report from CA, Plumas County area in the Sierra Nevadas in N. CA, from my sister who works for CALTRANS


It's difficult to find the proper set of adjectives to describe January
precipitation. Perhaps it would be better to simply avoid descriptions and
stick with facts. So here they are. January 2010 brought 91 inches of
snowfall to the west side of the Lake Almanor basin. That's seven feet,
seven inches of new snow, with almost all of it arriving during the ten day
period from January 17 through the 26th.

January began with a near-average amount of accumulated snowfall for the
season but well below average amount of water (only 69%). We were
basically 4 inches behind in water content on New Years Day. Rainfall
during the first half of the month did begin to ease that deficit, but
there was no measurable snowfall until the 17th. The storm series that
followed was truly extraordinary. A well forecast shift in the jet stream
over the Pacific sent back-to-back waves of moisture into California. At
one point during the peak of the storm series, local snowfall was arriving
at a rate of more than an inch and a half per hour. The daily snowfall
totals for January 20th and 21st were the highest at 22 inches each day.

The main storm series had passed by early Friday, the 22nd, but residual
moisture and minor follow-up fronts brought additional snow over the
subsequent several days. When it was all done, the snowfall total for the
month stood at 91 inches, which is well over twice the average amount of
snow expected for January. The early snow was quite wet, causing it to
cling to tree branches, but most of the subsequent snowfall was in the
relatively dry category. Between the rainfall and snowfall, total water
content for the month at the Prattville recording station was 9.67 inches,
well over the average for January.

In terms of season totals, the Lake Almanor basin is now looking
considerably better than it did at the start of January. The initial large
water deficit has now been erased, and the season total precipitation at
the end of January is 18.46 inches, or 97% of average. Season snowfall now
stands at 133 inches on the west shore, or 173% of average at this point.

An average February would bring us another 28.5 inches of snow and 5.5
inches of water content. An average month would be just fine, thank you.


Private Reply to James Booth

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