December 1, 2011--NASA satellites find Texas groundwater at record low (Washington Post)

A historic drought has depleted Texas aquifers to lows rarely seen since 1948, and it could take months — or even years — for the groundwater supplies to fully recharge, scientists who study NASA satellite data said Wednesday. Climatologists, hydrologists and even local residents had suspected the drought that has parched Texas for 14 months was significantly hurting the precious aquifers that course beneath the Lone Star State. Data compiled by NASA satellites combined with information from the University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center confirm those fears. “We can say with more confidence that yes, the groundwater storage is being reduced,” said drought center climatologist Brian Fuchs. Texas has received a little more than 12 inches of rain this year, which is 15.5 inches below normal, said Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. He noted that despite some recent rain, the deficit has actually grown since last month by about an inch. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, satellites are unique because rather than measuring light on wavelengths, they measure gravity based on mass variations, making them sensitive to changes in water on or below the Earth’s surface, no matter how deep, explained NASA hydrologist Matthew Rodell. 

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