The extreme drought plaguing western America has become so severe it is causing the Earth’s crust to rise.
Around 63 trillion gallons of water has disappeared since last year amid increasingly parched conditions.
The weight of ground water keeps the Earth’s crust where it is, and its loss has led to an “uplift” effect of more than half an inch in some places.
The most dramatic effects have occurred under mountains in California where snow packs have been depleted, according to a study published in the journal, Science.
There has been an average rise of one-sixth of an inch across the western region.
Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California took measurements from sensitive GPS stations located across the western states which were initially installed to monitor earthquakes.
A previous study had suggested loss of ground water could increase the number of earthquakes, but the Scripps scientists said there had been “virtually no effect on the San Andreas fault”.
Since 2000, western states including California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have seen their driest 14-year period in a century.
The 63 trillion gallons of water has been lost through a combination of factors including evaporation and use by people. Lack of rain means it has not been replaced.
The amount lost would be enough to cover the entire United States west of the Rocky Mountains with a layer of water four inches deep.
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SOURCE: Telegraph UK