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Earth Science

Western US Drought Has Made Earth's Crust Rise 90

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-burden's-been-lifted dept.
Loss of both groundwater and water stored in surface reservoirs in the drought-striken western U.S. isn't just expensive and contentious: it's evidently making the earth's crust rise in the West. Scripps researchers say that the average rise across a wide stretch of the West Coast is approximately one sixth of an inch. Scientists came to this conclusion by studying data collected from hundreds of GPS sensors across the Western U.S., installed primarily to detect small changes in the ground due to earthquakes. But the GPS data can also be used to show very small changes in elevation. The study specifically examined GPS stations on bedrock or very thin soil because it provides the most accurate measurement of groundwater loss, said Duncan Agnew, professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Areas with thick soil, such as farms, can see the ground sinking as the soil dries out. But Agnew said the bedrock underneath that soil is actually rising. The highest uplift of the Earth occurred in California's mountains because there is so much water below them, Agnew said. The uplift was less in Nevada and the Great Basin.
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Western US Drought Has Made Earth's Crust Rise

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  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @05:01AM (#47740907)

    Only one sixth of an inch? Are you sure?
    My Galileo positioning system tells me that the earth's crust rose by more than 113km.

    • I saw what you did there...
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Why the crust rose may not be due to drought, even though it's possible, just look at a few pictures with a slider to compare with here [aftonbladet.se]. (Swedish site) Unfortunately the pictures aren't from the exact same location causing the before/after perspective to be a bit different.

  • So it was like a frozen pizza or something?
    • Or an old Windows installation.
    • Re:Rising Crust (Score:4, Informative)

      by dhanson865 (1134161) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @11:15AM (#47741879)

      Dude you've apparently never made a pizza crust and also apparently don't pay attention to the types of bread in the world.

      You don't have to freeze pizza dough to have a rising crust. In fact every bread that isn't a flatbread has a rising crust.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

      I'm going to suggest you start with http://www.pizzamaking.com/for... [pizzamaking.com] and make some pizza from scratch until you make something that isn't a hocky puck. Then if you want to go back to frozen pizza you can or you can move on to trying white whole wheat, red whole wheat, or one of the regional styles (NY, Chicago, Neapolitan, California, Sicilian, etcetera) see http://www.pizzamaking.com/for... [pizzamaking.com] for more options.

      Doesn't matter if you harvest your own yeast (sourdough starter method) or you buy store bought yeast, any type of pizza I've ever made has yeast in it and thus had a rising crust.

      • by Zynder (2773551)
        Well aren't you a sensitive foodie? I do believe that sound you're hearing is the WHOOOOOOOSH of your dough collapsing!
  • Inch? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Science and inch are not compatible.
    What's an inch? Or a sixth of an inch? Can't compute.

  • by bluegutang (2814641) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @06:13AM (#47741021)

    Large portions of North America and Europe are currently rising because the weight of glaciers that once pushed them down has been removed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      When does America start sinking again due to the large weight of its citizens?

      • by peragrin (659227)

        probably after Europe does. There is after all twice as many europeans as Americans, and Europe is gaining steadily on the USA in Obesity.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Yes, but those talk about regions where there were massive layers of glaciers, typically over a kilometre thick. A good measure of where those ended is "where the exceptionally fertile black top soil is abundant". Because that fertile black top soil is the top soil that was dragged by expanding glaciers from northern regions to its current place.

      As a result, speed of this rise is very stable, as crust recovers from pressure during thousands and tens of thousands of years. It most certainly should not apply

    • Large portions of North America and Europe are currently rising because the weight of glaciers that once pushed them down has been removed.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

      I wonder how that plays with the measurements taken with relation to sea levels rising due to the same global warming melting the glaciers in the first place.

      • It's more due to the melting of the gigantic glaciers that once covered much of North America during the Ice Ages, like they now cover Greenland. The little glaciers sitting on tops of mountains, which are now melting due to global warming, have a much smaller effect.

        • It's more due to the melting of the gigantic glaciers that once covered much of North America during the Ice Ages, like they now cover Greenland. The little glaciers sitting on tops of mountains, which are now melting due to global warming, have a much smaller effect.

          Thanks but I'm thinking about the scientists checking if water level is rising in, say, California, due to global warming, well, globally. They might come to the conclusion that there is no sea level change because of the raising of California which would be hiding the actual sea level change.

  • It's probably Dick Cheney's fault.

    He also traveled back in time and caused the Dust Bowl.

  • Excellent. This takes care of the problem of rising sea levels.
  • The Earth is in a constant flux of change and evolving. Not exactly new news. How the human animal will adapt to these ever constant changes will be the 'news'.

    Earthquakes and volcanoes erupting are a constant in the Earth's progression. Our impact on the enviornment is what is actually changing the game. Are we impacting (at least temporarily) the weather that we rely upon? Are we intelligent enough to create solutions to the problems we have/are creating?

    The real question is, can we survive ou

    • by khallow (566160)

      The real question is, can we survive ourselves?

      The real threat seems to be large nuclear war or some similar military-grade existential threat (weaponized diseases, for example). As long as we don't try to kill each other with such weapons, then it seems to me that the climate related stuff isn't that serious a danger. In other words, if the environmental impact is bad enough that it triggers a large scale nuclear war, then yes, it's really bad else it's just another thing we can adapt to.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Already forgot the tsunami that killed over 30.000 people and effectively wiped out infrastructure in large region of Japan I see.
        Granted that's not hard to do considering that media largely ignored that part in favour of far less damaging Fukushima accident caused by said tsunami instead.

        Rising crust causes earthquakes. Those cause direct damage as well as tsunamis. Are you certain you wish to outright dismiss forces that when applied to earth crust trump biggest nuclear weapons we have by orders of magnit

        • by khallow (566160)

          Already forgot the tsunami that killed over 30.000 people and effectively wiped out infrastructure in large region of Japan I see.

          Completely irrelevant here since both the damage was insignificant on a global scale and quickly repaired (extremely rapid adaptation on a time scale faster than climate change operates on). I'm worried about things that quickly kill 300 million people. Nuclear war can do that. Sea level rise can't.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Damage isn't repaired to this day in many places. Infrastructure outside large cities an major pathways is still in a bad shape. Catastrophies are increasing on global scale as well, as they are not localized so a single region.

            • by khallow (566160)

              Infrastructure outside large cities an major pathways is still in a bad shape.

              But that was never in good shape. You aren't going to pack thousands of people per square km in the countryside.

              Catastrophies are increasing on global scale as well, as they are not localized so a single region.

              Do you actually have an example of a global catastrophe? Zero is not an increase over zero.

              • by Luckyo (1726890)

                On your first point, actually it was. Japan is extremely well developed due to being a relatively small island in comparison to its population.

                Also, your second sentence is a strawman argument. No one besides you talked about a "global catastrophe". I was talking about "catastrophies are increasing on global scale". If you do not understand the obvious difference, may I suggest lessons in English language before proceeding with this discussion?

                • by khallow (566160)
                  You wrote:

                  Catastrophies are increasing on global scale as well

                  I was merely responding to that. What is "global scale" referring to then? Also, since I'm at it, I don't see any evidence of any increase in catastrophes. To the contrary, I see evidence of substantial declines in catastrophes and body counts when those catastrophes occur. A modern emergency/disaster response works wonders in reducing the occurrence and severity of catastrophes.

                  • by Luckyo (1726890)

                    Exactly what it says. "Catastrophies are increasing on global scale as well".

                    I'm not sure where you're looking for evidence either. We already know that there are more catastrophic floods such as recent ones in Central Europe, more extreme winds such as typhoons and hurricanes and so on, and those that appear are getting more powerful. Those things are directly tied to warmer water surface of the oceans.

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      We already know that there are more catastrophic floods such as recent ones in Central Europe, more extreme winds such as typhoons and hurricanes and so on, and those that appear are getting more powerful.

                      We and in particular you don't actually know such a thing. There has to be evidence of this first before there can be knowledge.

                    • by khallow (566160)
                      I just happened across an interesting study [reason.org] that backs my earlier assertions. From the "executive summary":

                      Aggregate mortality attributed to all extreme weather events globally has declined by more than 90% since the 1920s, in spite of a four - fold rise in population and much more complete reporting of such events.

                    • by Luckyo (1726890)

                      You find pictures and videos of the said floods, hurricanes and so on, dead and displaced people and comparisons made by scientists to be inadmissible as evidence?

                    • by Luckyo (1726890)

                      Indeed. So has aggregate mortality from the main killers of such floods, known as "infectious diseases".

                      I'll let you figure out why.

                    • by khallow (566160)
                      I already figured that out long ago - modern medicine and public sanitation are wonderful things. I'm more interested in this huge piece of evidence which runs counter to your assertion that there are more catastrophes "on a global scale".
                    • by khallow (566160)

                      You find pictures and videos of the said floods, hurricanes and so on, dead and displaced people and comparisons made by scientists to be inadmissible as evidence?

                      Of course, I find them inadmissible. You should too. Storms and such will continue to happen even if they are growing less frequent rather than more frequent. Evidence distinguishes between theories. The above information doesn't do that.

                      OTOH, "comparisons made by scientists" is so profound nebulous and unscientific a term, that it doesn't even qualify as information. I can find "comparisons made by scientists" to "prove" a huge variety of conspiracy theories or pseudoscience theories. That's in fact a s

                    • by Luckyo (1726890)

                      You just admitted that it doesn't, and then in the next sentence, you repeat the original claim.

                      I love denialist logic. Or lack of it.

                    • by khallow (566160)
                      I find your supposed observations about "denialist logic" particularly absurd, since I supported my original argument with evidence while you have yet to present anything other than weak insults.
  • I'd like to know how this can be determined when GPS accuracy appears to be good only to about 3 meters.
    http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps... [gps.gov]

    • Re:GPS Accuracy (Score:4, Informative)

      by Megane (129182) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @11:27AM (#47741929) Homepage

      Because that's its accuracy for knowing your absolute position in a short period of time. If you use it to determine relative position over a long period of time, it's much more accurate. Apparently there's something called "Carrier phase tracking" which has an accuracy of 2mm for surveying. Or they could have augmented it with ground-based transmitters.

      Still, 4mm is quite a small distance to measure with GPS, even with a 2mm accuracy mode.

      • by dcw3 (649211)

        Interesting, but even with that, if Wikipedia is correct, the accuracy of that isn't quite what you're claiming.

        " CPGPS working to within 1% of perfect transition reduces this error to 3 centimeters (1.2 in) of ambiguity."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That accuracy limit is only for real time. For survey and timing purposes, averaging is used blur out the imperfections and results in inch/centimeter or nanosecond accuracy; assisted receivers (DGPS, WAAS, etc) vastly reduce the time to get this accuracy, but aren't available everywhere on the earth's surface.

  • Does anyone remember when there were plans to inject water into faults to make them slip before the strains reached epic proportions? Fracking and drought are now running those sorts of experiments for us.
  • The value measured in about 1 CM of rise over the Western US. In Places which were covered by continental glaciers as recently as 12,00 YA, the change in elevation can be measured in feet and it is uneven. The evidence is that drainages have been reversed in places like Canada in historical time as the crust rebounds. Ice and water are relatively dense, so that the weight of a mile of ice can sufficiently weigh down the crust which floats on the plastically deformable mantle. Although rock seems rigid to y

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