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Yosemite Forum: Ongoing drought in the Sierra Nevada: A climatic and tectonic perspective

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avatar Yosemite Forum: Ongoing drought in the Sierra Nevada: A climatic and tectonic perspective
June 01, 2015 11:05AM
"Ongoing drought in the Sierra Nevada: A climatic and tectonic perspective"
by Dr. Dan Cayan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of San Diego and U.S. Geological Survey.

Drought is expected occasionally in California, but the past four years have been persistently dry. Furthermore, 2014 and 2015 have been unusually warm. The recent dry spell is marked by the absence of large storms, which is important because historically the largest storms have delivered the bulk of California’s water supply. Of the many natural impacts of the drought, one of the most remarkable involves regional tectonics. GPS sensors across the western US record a solid earth rebound (upward displacement) over the last few years reflecting the loss of the weight of water that normally loads the Earth’s surface and sub-surface. Seasonally-adjusted GPS time series reveal a broad region of drought-driven uplift, with values up to 15 mm in the central and southern Sierra Nevada over the past several years.

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