8_11 Water Resources Broadcast (Massive Groundwater Loss, Algal Blooms and More)

Hello, and welcome to GeoSpatial Stream. I’m your host, Todd Danielson, and today’s Lead Sponsor is Trimble Geospatial Division.

Today’s Top Story is water–a major lack of water, really. A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

The research team used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amounts on and below the surface. Monthly measurements from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of fresh water (that’s 65 cubic kilometers for the rest of the world). That’s almost double the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total was from groundwater.

According to Stephanie Castle, a water-resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine, and the study’s lead author, “We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”

How GRACE works is pretty cool. Within a given region, the change in mass due to rising or falling water reserves influences the strength of the local gravitational attraction. By periodically measuring gravity regionally, GRACE reveals how much a region’s water storage changes over time.

That was today’s Top Story. I’ll be back with more news after this brief message.

Engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland are using remote-sensing technology aboard its S-3 aircraft to learn more about the Lake Erie algal bloom that contaminated water supplies in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. Each aquatic component of the lake has a unique spectrographic signature. By studying these signatures, researchers can continually improve their ability to remotely identify the biochemical properties of an algal bloom and predict when and where they will form.

In other news, the U.S. Geological Survey added the U.S. Virgin Islands to the list of areas available for editing with The National Map Corps volunteered geographic information project.

And here’s a little sporting news. Esri introduced a story map of Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees, to coincide with the new players’ enshrinement on August 9th. The map details the home towns of each of the inducted players.

In industry headlines, Pelydryn Ltd. purchased the new Chiroptera II LiDAR system from Airborne Hydrography and Leica Geosystems for shallow-water data acquisition.

Geographic Technologies Group introduced VP SMART, a mobile solution for public-safety agencies that helps them quickly react, relate and recognize location information about emergency incidents.

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) inducted Charles M. Croner into its GIS Hall of Fame. He will be officially recognized during URISA’s GIS-Pro 2014 conference in New Orleans in September.

And Lockheed Martin was selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Hosted Payload Solutions initiative, which is aimed at integrating some government payloads–electronics and sensors packages designed for specific missions–on commercial satellites.

As water is the theme of this episode, I’ll close with a related video found in the Los Angeles Times:

That’s it for this broadcast, I’m Todd Danielson, and this … was your GeoSpatial Stream.