The Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the US (And Slowing Some, Too)

The Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the US (And Slowing Some, Too)

Recent research from the US Geological Survey has determined that the water cycle has been speeding up and slowing down over parts of the United States. The intensification of the water cycle is in keeping with the expectations of climate change, sometimes called the “drought and deluge” cycle.

The data compiled covered the years 1945-1974 to 1985-2014 and

“showed that there has been an increase in the flow between the various stages of the water cycle over most the U.S. in the past seven decades. The rates of ocean evaporation, terrestrial evapotranspiration, and precipitation have been increasing. In other words, water has been moving more quickly and intensely through the various stages.”

Because the pace of the water cycle intensifies in certain areas, over time regions with weakening water cycles and low soil moisture could become drier while a quickening water cycle could mean greater precipitation or soil moisture storage, which could increase flooding risks.

Regions that seem to have a weakening water cycle are parts of California and the Northwest, as well as much of the Southeast. Faster cycling seems more likely in the Northeast and Texas. All of this could have great impacts on water availability, particularly for agriculture and changing crop irrigation patterns.

[NASA Earth Observatory]