Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Kayla Hanczyk makes this connection with the drought crisis that is currently happening in California.
The WRE news article, “Epic California Drought and Groundwater: Where Do We Go From Here? “ from National Geographic on February 4, 2014 reported in the hydrology domain. The issue that was being reported in was the diminishing groundwater in California. In summary this news article discussed how The UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling recently released a report on the California drought. This recent report describes the NASA GRACE satellite mission and how it is able to see the amount of groundwater that is available within the area. It also discusses ways to try and solve this problem. This is a very accurate source as Biology News Net and The New York Times report the same very detailed information about the GRACE mission.
The UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling has been working on this type of research for over 2 decades and the GRACE satellite mission was launched in 2002. The goal of this mission is to quantify the global freshwater availability and to monitor he rate at which it is decreasing. In doing this they hope to be able to restrict use and restore the groundwater levels to a sustainable amount. So far this mission has been very successful, the satellite is able to see how the water supply is changing each month, but not only groundwater is being monitored. The snow, surface water, soil moisture, and groundwater make up seemingly the total water storage and are all able to be monitored by GRACE. It is seen that all of these values are decreasing at a very rapid rate, and with fresh groundwater being a finite resource something needs to be done and fast. One specific event that happened was the major drought between 2006 and 2010. During this time of little to no rain the agricultural business was in great danger. In order for the crops to grow farmers had to majorly tap into groundwater reservoirs resulting in a ground water depletion so great that it was registered at satellite “scale” that orbits about 400km above the Earth’s surface. The big question we now are asking is what we are going to do in attempt to solve this problem.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Reference:
Famiglietti, Jay. Epic California Drought and Groundwater: Where Do We Go From Here?. February 4, 2014. Available at:
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/04/epic-california-drought-and-groundwater-where-do-we-go-from-here/. Accessed on 13February 2014.
Satellites show “total” California water storage at neardecadelow. brazilc@uci.edu. Biology News Net. February 3, 2014. Avalible at:
http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2014/02/03/satellites_show_total_california_water_storage_at_neardecade_low.html. Accessed February 14, 2014
Devenport,Coral. Obama to Announce Aid for Drought-Racked California. The New York Times. February 14,2014.

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