The Colorado River near Page, Arizona (Credit: Adrille, via Wikimedia Commons)
Researchers from NASA and the University of California, Irvine have quantified major groundwater loss in the Southwest, according to the Associated Press. Satellite measurements played a central role in their figuring.
Gravity data collected monthly from December 2004 to November 2013 was used in the analysis. Since 2004, scientists found that the Colorado River basin lost 17 trillion gallons of water, enough to supply 50 million households with water for one year.
That kind of loss, three-fourths of which were groundwater, will have long-term impacts on the seven states and part of Mexico that sit in the river basin. Combined with declining mountain snowpack in the region and robust population growth, study authors say the basin will have difficulties meeting water needs.
Image: The Colorado River near Page, Arizona (Credit: Adrille, via Wikimedia Commons)