Groundwater Mapping and Investigations in the U.S. Help Decision-Makers Better Understand Water Resources

In Georgia, California, and Montana, groundwater research helps leaders make data-driven decisions about water management.

Monitoring wells give groundwater researchers a way to map aquifers and water movement invisible to the human eye. Image Credit: Public domain

Monitoring wells give groundwater researchers a way to map aquifers and water movement invisible to the human eye. Image Credit: Public domain

Earthzine’s February 2016 monthly focus topic centers on mapping and investigating groundwater. Humans have been drilling and using wells for centuries, but it’s only recently we’re beginning to understand how groundwater systems interact with surfacewater and stormwater, as well as functioning as an integral aspect of the water cycle.

The articles in this month’s focus topic examine groundwater in three different regions of the United States. In the American South, a NASA DEVELOP team in Georgia is using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) remote sensing data to help decision-makers avoid contamination of karst aquifers used for domestic, industrial, and agricultural purposes. 

On the West Coast, in California, the Recharge Initiative seeks to understand groundwater in the midst of an historic drought to make better water resource management decisions. Scientists there also seek to understand how to recharge aquifers when the rain falls in large, brief storm events rather than slowly over time.

And in the Northern Rockies, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology’s Ground Water Investigation Program studies and maps groundwater throughout the state to answer questions about aquifer and stream depletion, development stresses on groundwater, and how changing irrigation practices affect groundwater recharge.

The National Ground Water Association‘s National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 6-12, 2016.