GPS drought2

As parts of the western USA, particularly California, are reaching historic drought conditions, GPS tracking devices typically used to provide earthquake prediction data are providing some important measurements of the earth’s crust.  As drought conditions worsen, the earth’s crust rises because of the lack of water in the soil which would normally weigh it down.  By tracking the rises in the earth’s crust, scientists are able to measure and track the drought’s severity.  In the west, the average rise of the earth’s crust over the last year is 4cm.  However, the mountainous regions of California have seen rises as high as 15 cm this year.

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