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NASA California drought

The U.S. has lost 63 trillion gallons of groundwater in the last 18 months due to drought

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, August 21, 2014, 4:27 PM - Parts of the U.S. are in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recent history, and a startling new study out of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey demonstrates how the lack of water is re-shaping the landscape.

Researchers say that approximately 63 trillion gallons of groundwater has been lost in the U.S. in the past 18 months -- enough to rise the Earth an average of about 0.16 inches.

In California, the ground has risen an average of 0.6 inches.

"We found that [the flooding is] most severe in California, particularly in the Sierras,” Co-author Duncan Agnew, professor of geophysics at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography told the LA Times.

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“It’s predominantly in the Coast Ranges and the Sierras showing the most uplift, and hence, that’s where we believe is the largest water loss.”

The study was published online Thursday in the journal Science.

The research adds to a growing list of academic papers outlining the impact a prolonged drought can have on the U.S.

Last month, a study by NASA and the University of California found that the Colorado River Basin has lost nearly 17 trillion gallons acre feet of freshwater over the past nine years -- enough to supply more than 50 million households for a year.

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