Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Ogallala Study Starting Up

A four-year, $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation has been provided to Kansas University and $1.2 million to Michigan State University to co-study and clarify the future prospects of the Ogallala (links are press releases by both schools on this study).

It is no secret that total pumping from the aquifer many times exceeds recharge - even though these imbalances vary quite a bit from area to area within all of the states.  Irrigation is the support for one of the most abundant agricultural zones in the world, producing alfalfa, corn, sorghum, soybean, cotton, sunflowers and wheat, in addition to supplying water for numerous, and in some cases, very large feedlots.

The study is designed to look at not only the hydrologic aspects of the aquifer, but also economic and environmental factors.  A number of short and long-term scenarios from hydrological and socioeconomic perspectives will be explored hoping to answer questions about what the effect climate change and land-use changes might also have on the aquifer.  And even how the water users themselves may respond to changes in technology, economics the climate and declining water levels.

Kind of sounds like a repeat (but on a much larger scale) of the hydrologic and economic modeling we're already doing for our portion of the aquifer, but which is currently stalled due to funding issues.  I wish them luck and will be interested in their results.

1 comment:

  1. Not a very big grant so I would be surprised if much new data is collected. But hopefully they can provide a fresh perspective to existing data. As a bit of an Ogallala hobbyist myself I'll be interested to see what they come up with as well. Interesting side note, David Hyndman, who is heading up the study at MSU was a classmate of mine in hydrology at Arizona. I may have to reconnect when they publish their results.