Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geoscience

First Committee Member

Zhongbo Yu

Second Committee Member

Ganqing Jiang

Third Committee Member

Scott Nowicki

Fourth Committee Member

Zhonghai Ding

Number of Pages

132

Abstract

As drought conditions spread across the United States, concerns over water supplies, water use, and water management policies are growing and possible contributing environmental factors are continually being scrutinized. This thesis examines Death Valley as an analog for Southern Nevada and utilizes NASA EOS data, combined with ancillary climate data, to assess the effect of decadal climate variability on groundwater storage in the Death Valley area. Historical climate data, combined with satellite imagery observations, were compiled and calculated for analyses. Conclusions derived from statistical analyses infer trends between GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite data and fluctuating levels of recharge and groundwater storage, as well as climatic changes in temperature and rainfall. The observations show seasonal variations in ground water thickness of up to 10 cm from the mean, correlated directly to seasonal temperature variability. Connections were also observed between temperature and precipitation with a correlation factor of -0.5. The relationship between precipitation and groundwater thickness change is also evident, with a correlation factor of 0.4 where evaporation and delayed aquifer response are likely impacting direct correlation. The research illustrates how and which environmental factors are impacting the groundwater storage in Death Valley. Due to the similarity of climates between Death Valley and Southern Nevada, this research may be used as an analogy illustrating the impact of climate variability in Southern Nevada. The research, combining GRACE satellite observations and downscaled historical climate data will show any adverse effects that climate variability may be having on the area, including the impact it has on aquifers, and the impact it has on Death Valley's water supply in general.

Keywords

Climate; Climatic changes; GRACE; Groundwater; Groundwater recharge; Hydrogeology; Precipitation (Meteorology); United States – Death Valley; United States – Mojave Desert; Water-supply – Effect of global warming on

Disciplines

Climate | Desert Ecology | Geology | Hydrology | Remote Sensing | Water Resource Management

Language

English


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