On November 24, 2014 at the request of the Long Beach Water Department the Aquarium of the Pacific convened a group of 10 water experts from throughout California and one from Arizona to characterize the severity of the Southern California drought, and to recommend what actions should be taken now to reduce its impact. UCLA was represented on the group of experts by Madelyn Glickfeld, Director of the UCLA Water Resources Group at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

This report is a brief summary of the deliberations of that working group. It begins with the statement made to the media the day of the forum that was endorsed by all the participants. Following that is a short statement that provides more extensive context for the group’s findings and recommendations.

Read report here.

This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites in June 2002 (left), June 2008 (center) and June 2014 (right). Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between April 2002 and June 2014.

California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins, including the Central Valley, have suffered the greatest losses, in part due to increased groundwater pumping to support agricultural production. Between 2011 and 2014, the combined river basins have lost 4 trillion gallons (15 cubic kilometers, or 12 million acre-feet) of water each year, an amount far greater than California’s 38 million residents use in cities and homes annually.

A version of the June 2014 panel (right) appears on the Sept. 26, 2014 cover of Science Magazine.

GRACE is a collaborative endeavor involving the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, Austin; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the German Space Agency and Germany’s National Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam.

Image Credit: Jay Famiglietti, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and University of California, Irvine