Texas drought visible in new national groundwater maps

Nov 30, 2011
New groundwater and soil moisture drought indicator maps produced by NASA are available on the National Drought Mitigation Center's website. They currently show unusually low groundwater storage levels in Texas. The maps use an 11-division scale, with blues showing wetter-than-normal conditions and a yellow-to-red spectrum showing drier-than-normal conditions. Credit: NASA/National Drought Mitigation Center

(PhysOrg.com) -- The record-breaking drought in Texas that has fueled wildfires, decimated crops and forced cattle sales has also reduced levels of groundwater in much of the state to the lowest levels seen in more than 60 years, according to new national maps produced by NASA and distributed by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The latest , released on Nov. 29, shows large patches of maroon over eastern Texas, indicating severely depressed . The maps, generated weekly by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are publicly available on the Drought Center's website.

"Texas groundwater will take months or longer to recharge," said Matt Rodell, a hydrologist based at Goddard. "Even if we have a major rainfall event, most of the water runs off. It takes a longer period of sustained greater-than-average precipitation to recharge aquifers significantly."

The maps are based on data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and (GRACE) satellites, which detect small changes in Earth's caused primarily by the redistribution of water on and beneath the land surface. The paired satellites travel about 137 miles (220 km) apart and record small changes in the distance separating them as they encounter variations in Earth's gravitational field.

To make the maps, scientists used a sophisticated computer model that combines measurements of water storage from GRACE with a long-term meteorological dataset to generate a continuous record of soil moisture and groundwater that stretches back to 1948. GRACE data goes back to 2002. The meteorological data include precipitation, temperature, and other ground- and space-based measurements.

The color-coded maps show how much water is stored now as a probability of occurrence in the 63-year record. The maroon shading over eastern Texas, for example, shows that the level of dryness over the last week occurred less than two percent of the time between 1948 and the present.

The groundwater maps aren't the only maps based on GRACE data that the Drought Center publishes each week. The Drought Center also distributes soil moisture maps that show moisture changes in the root zone down to about 3 feet (1 meter) below the surface, as well as surface soil moisture maps that show changes within the top inch (2 cm) of the land.

"All of these maps offer policymakers new information into subsurface water fluctuations at regional to national scales that has not been available in the past," said the Drought Center's Brian Wardlow. The maps provide finer resolution or are more consistently available than other similar sources of information, and having the maps for the three different levels should help decision makers distinguish between short-term and long-term droughts.

"These maps would be impossible to generate using only ground-based observations," said Rodell. "There are groundwater wells all around the United States and the U.S. Geological Survey does keep records from some of those wells, but it's not spatially continuous and there are some big gaps."

The maps also offer farmers, ranchers, water resource managers and even individual homeowners a new tool to monitor the health of critical groundwater resources. "People rely on groundwater for irrigation, for domestic water supply, and for industrial uses, but there's little information available on regional to national scales on groundwater storage variability and how that has responded to a drought," Rodell said. "Over a long-term dry period there will be an effect on groundwater storage and groundwater levels. It's going to drop quite a bit, people's wells could dry out, and it takes time to recover."

The maps are the result of a NASA-funded project at the Drought Center and NASA Goddard to make it easier for the weekly U.S. Monitor to incorporate data from the GRACE satellites. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., developed GRACE and manages the mission for NASA. The groundwater and maps are updated each Tuesday.

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User comments : 9

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omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Nov 30, 2011
New groundwater and soil moisture drought indicator maps produced by NASA show unusually low groundwater storage levels in Texas.


If these are "new drought indicator maps produced by NASA", how do they know that the images "show unusually low groundwater storage levels in Texas"?

The public is becoming increasingly aware that government science has been molded into a tool of propaganda for misuse by politicians.

Now more scientists are speaking out, e.g., Professor David H. Douglass of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester:

www.pas.rochester...shed.pdf

www.thegwpf.org/i...orms.pdf

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

http://ngm.nation...dex.html

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
ekim
not rated yet Nov 30, 2011
If these are "new drought indicator maps produced by NASA", how do they know that the images "show unusually low groundwater storage levels in Texas"?

"There are groundwater wells all around the United States and the U.S. Geological Survey does keep records from some of those wells, but it's not spatially continuous and there are some big gaps."
omatumr
1.2 / 5 (6) Nov 30, 2011
US Senators are now considering legislation that:

"requires the military to dedicate a significant number of personnel to capturing and holding terrorism suspects in some cases indefinitely even those apprehended on U.S. soil. And they authorize the military to do so regardless of an accused terrorists citizenship, even if he or she is an American captured in a U.S. city."

That may be used against scientists who criticized world leaders and leaders of the scientific community for joining forces with the climate scientists that fudged global temperature data.

See today's news in:

1. Slate:

www.slate.com/art...ns_.html

2. Canadian Free Press:

www.canadafreepre...le/42805

3. Huffington Post:

www.huffingtonpos...166.html
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Nov 30, 2011
Earths climate changes because Earth's heat source is unstable and is always changing. For four decades government scientists hid or ignored experimental data and observations in order to promote the illusion that CO2 caused climate change:

Deep roots of the global climate scandal (1971-2011)

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

That propaganda was designed to unite nations against an imaginary common enemy - global climate change - and to equalize the standard of those living under a one world government.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
Howhot
2.7 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2011
Sounds like it's time to consider the evacuation of Huston for lack of water on all of the lawns. That and summers at 105 for months straight. That must be caused by "Global Cooling" from the conservative deniers and their truthful science.
jmlvu
2 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
It's a red state, who cares, let them burn.
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (49) Dec 01, 2011
Have they outlawed golf courses yet? Low taxes be damned, watch the CEOs flee when that goes down.
Doom1974
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
Hey OmaTard. Sun irradiance is lower, yet temperatures are higher. Explain that Tard. Otherwise keep your mouth shut.
jsdarkdestruction
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories
http://www.mshp.d...leName=K

http://mominer.ms...e-and-so

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