By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

California’s Central Valley, according to researchers, is in a “perfect storm,” whereby drought years, rising temperatures and subsiding clay are causing the ground to collapse. The region’s groundwater has been largely depleted after the state’s $50 billion agricultural industry resorted to pumping during the drought.

Stanford University researchers say, however, that they may have found a way to prevent catastrophe, but that action should be taken soon.

“There is a time delay in the system,” Stanford geophysicist Rosemary Knight, senior author of a recent study on the topic, told the Sacramento Bee. “The only way we can stop it is to be strategic about what we do with our available recharge water.”

Knight and the other researchers recommend using “two types of remote sensing data” which analyze sand and clay layers in the ground. “As groundwater demand grows globally due to climate change, more basins are experiencing land subsidence, making it essential that we can accurately model the impacts of groundwater depletion and design effective management strategies to reduce or avoid subsidence,” they conclude in their study.

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