USGS Washington Water Science Center
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The Issue: Seasonally frozen ground occurs over approximately one-third of the contiguous United States, and the extent and duration of frozen ground have been decreasing as a result of global warming. In semi-arid regions such as the Columbia Plateau and Snake River Plain in the Pacific Northwest, nearly all natural recharge occurs between October and March when intermittent or seasonal frozen-ground is commonplace and precipitation is relatively abundant. Thus, there is a potentially significant but poorly understood connection between climate change, frozen ground, and groundwater recharge to principal aquifers in the Pacific Northwest.
How USGS will help: This investigation will improve our understanding and our ability to monitor the linkages between climate change, frozen ground, and groundwater recharge to principal aquifers in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Plateau and eastern Snake River Plain Regional Aquifer Systems.