To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
California’s mountains have risen by as much as 1.5 centimeters since early 2013, according to sensitive GPS measurements analyzed by the Scripps Institute of Oceanog- raphy. The cause? It’s not due to increased magma pressure from deep underground or anything of that ilk; it’s due to an exceptionally severe drought that spans California and much of the western United States. The drought means less water weighing down the land, and as a result, the West has risen by an amount that lines up with the amount of water lost during the rise—240 gigatons, or roughly the amount that melts from the entire Greenland ice sheet each year. 6 1663 January 2015 At the same time, the Colorado River—which provides drinking water to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and more—is showing the effects of a 14-year drought. Its Lake Mead reservoir, America’s largest, is now down to about three-eighths capacity, its lowest level since Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1930s. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts that the dam will produce as little as 1120 megawatts of hydropower by mid-2016, despite its 2074-megawatt capacity, due to diminished and oversub- scribed river water. And with long-term rising temperatures, reservoir levels are expected to continue to decline because