The reading assignment below? It's alright. But the truth is the subject of the story, UC Irvine and Jet Propulsion Laboratory water scientist Jay Famiglietti, has written far more eloquently about the global groundwater issues raised in this week's cover story. After the jump are but five examples …
LEARN MORE: JayFamiglietti.com
1) “How the West was Lost,” National Geographic Water Currents, July 24, 2014
In between California and Texas, there is scarce little green space to be had. Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona are all in the grips of a multiyear 'big dry,' with only the last vestige of this past winter's average snowpack in Colorado to hang their hopes on. Lake Mead, our country's largest reservoir, is at its lowest level ever.
Can it get any worse? I'm afraid so.
2) “How Much Water Does California Have Left?” Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2014
It is time for Southern Californians to wake up and smell the dusty, dry air that has turned the rest of the Golden State brown. We are in big trouble too; we just can't see it through the overwatered foliage.
3) “Just How Bad Is California's Epic Drought?” Takepart, Feb. 22, 2014
Fresh off one of the driest years in its history, California is poised to enter its next great epoch of groundwater depletion. The state's drought is worse than most if not all past ones. State Water Project and Central Valley Project surface water allocations have been slashed to nothing. Farmers are digging more wells. We could easily drive our groundwater levels to historic new lows, with little long-term chance for recovery.
4) “Water and the Roots of Violent Conflict in Syria,” Huffington Post, Sept. 7, 2013
Societies have always risen and fallen based in large part on the availability of water. While the wealth of many nations of the 21st century allows for greater water security, many countries, like Syria, have none. First, migration to the cities, and then, mass exodus, suggest that Syria as a nation may not recover, at least any time soon. It is unlikely that its groundwater resources, and likewise, its food security, ever will.
5) “Spin Cycle: Will Changing Global Hydrology Throw the Geopolitical Machine Off-Balance?” Water 50/50, Nov. 22, 2011
As groundwater supplies in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world approach depletion, access to available water will undeniably be more contentious than today. Will there be enough water to grow sufficient amounts of food to nourish our ever-expanding population? Let's face it. Thirsty and hungry people get seriously grumpy, which spells C-O-N-F-L-I-C-T. Expect more water wars in the future.
On the next page, for you eggheads out there, are five research papers from Famiglietti and his team.
1) A GRACE-based water storage deficit approach for hydrological drought characterization, Wiley Online Library, March 5, 2014
2) Water in the Balance, Science, June 14, 2013
3) Characteristic mega-basin water storage behavior using GRACE, Wiley Online Library, June 10, 2013
4) Groundwater depletion in the Middle East from GRACE with implications for transboundary water management in the Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region, Wiley Online Library, Feb. 19, 2013
5) Estimating groundwater storage changes in the Mississippi River basin (USA) using GRACE, Hydrogeology Journal, February 2007
EXTRA CREDIT: “The Global Groundwater Crisis,” Nature Climate Change, Oct. 29, 2014
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.