Drought Has Had an Uplifting Effect
The current, severe drought has not only gripped New Mexico and the western United States for several years, it has also lifted up the land itself, positioning buildings, streets and mountains in Albuquerque about 0.15 of an inch higher than a decade ago.
Brandon Schmandt, a geophysicist at the University of New Mexico.
That news comes from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in a study published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.
“It probably doesn’t change life for people in Albuquerque or the Southwest, but it’s significant that so much water is being moved around that it can cause the land to move up or down,” said a local scientist, University of New Mexico geophysicist Brandon Schmandt. “This is an amazing measurement, one that we haven’t had access to before.”
The effect of the drought, which Scripps describes as a “growing, broad-scale loss of water … causing the entire western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring,” is even more pronounced in the mountains of California, where the “uplift effect” is more than half an inch.