California quickly jumps from an extreme state to another, as six years of drought turned into severe dryness. However, the environment doesn’t stay unaffected, as any kind of extreme climatic event leaves a huge trace on it. A recent research developed by NASA discovered how the drought made the Sierra Mountains taller. During the six years that it lasted, the mountains got one inch higher.
Water contributes to the formation of mountains
During Earth’s evolution, the land got covered in water, and then remained completely dry. This was the moment when it started rising. The weight of the water presses the land and keeps it at a low altitude but, as soon as the water is gone, it starts rising. This suggests that our planet is a lot better at storing water than we used to think.
Researchers looked at how the Sierra Mountains evolved over time. They noticed that, the moment the mountains got covered in snow, their height went down 12 millimeters. As the drought ended and the land turned dry, they wanted to see if this caused any changes in the land formation. Therefore, they turned to the data collected by 1,300 GPS points placed all over the mountains.
The severe drought made the Sierra Mountains one inch higher
The stations can detect the presence of volcanoes or any kind of tectonic movement, but they are also sensitive enough to detect any small increase or decrease in the height of the Sierra Mountains. Also, they could tell how much water the mountains hosted. The amount of liquid was tremendous, namely 10.8 cubic meters.
Of course, this water interacts with the inner layers of the mountains. Somehow, it manages to penetrate the rock layer, reaching its core. This influences the movement of the tectonic plates and the formation of extra rocky material, which goes on continuously. Also, the water gets trapped within the mountain, which contributes to its increase in height. Therefore, the huge amount of liquid trapped in the Sierra Mountains made them higher.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons