Texas is home to America's second largest shale oil field, and business is booming - production has skyrocketed from under 1,000 barrels a day in 2004 to more than 8 million so far in 2011. But hydraulic fracturing in shale rock requires millions of gallons of water, a precious resource during one of the worst droughts in the state's history.
Anchor Thalia Assuras visits the Eagle Ford shale in Texas to see how rapidly expanding water use by energy companies is impacting the state.
Texas endured its driest year ever in 2011, and southern Alabama and Georgia have continued to suffer serious drought in 2012. Climate change is predicted to make drought more frequent in the southern United States, putting a strain on groundwater resources. This visualization reveals the freshwater stores that NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite detects from space and shows how that data can be used to evaluate groundwater gains and losses, critical information in the effort to conserve the water that people depend upon. For background information, educational resources, and more, visit Water Underground on the Science Bulletins Web site: amnh.org/sciencebulletins/
Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History.
Special thanks to Matthew Rodell, Hiroko Kato Beaudoing, and Bailing Li of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
This visualization was produced by the American Museum of Natural History under award NA10SEC0080014 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or the U.S. Department of Commerce.
After a ten year drought in the American Southwest the water level in Lake Mead, the main water reservoir for cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, is at less than 50%. To guarantee water supply for Las Vegas, the South Nevada Water Authority is constructing a third, much deeper water intake in the lake.
Photos and video: Johannes Abeling and Ronald de Hommel
Edit: Johannes Abeling