Geoscience in Washington

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What is Geoscience?

Geoscience is the study of the Earth and the complex geologic, marine, atmospheric, and hydrologic processes that sustain life and the economy. Understanding the Earth’s surface and subsurface, its resources, history, and hazards allows us to develop solutions to critical economic, environmental, health, and safety challenges.

By the numbers: Washington

12,118 geoscience employees (excludes self-employed)1

1.53 billion gallons/day: total groundwater withdrawal3

$901 million: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20174

132 total disaster declarations, including 78 fire, 28 flood, and 16 severe storm disasters (1953-2017)⁶

$34.4 million: NSF GEO grants awarded in 201714

Your State Source for Geoscience Information

Washington Geological Survey
1111 Washington St
SE Olympia, WA 98504

    Workforce in Washington

    • 12,118 geoscience employees (excludes self-employed) in 20171
    • $80,786: average median geoscience employee salary1
    • 11 academic geoscience departments2

    Water Use in Washington

    • 1.53 billion gallons/day: total groundwater withdrawal3
    • 2.73 billion gallons/day: total surface water withdrawal3
    • 867 million gallons/day: public supply water withdrawal3
    • 2.52 billion gallons/day: water withdrawal for irrigation3
    • 412 million gallons/day: industrial fresh water withdrawal3
    • 86% of the population is served by public water supplies3

    Energy and Minerals in Washington

    • $901 million: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20174
    • Sand and gravel (construction), stone (crushed), gold: top three nonfuel minerals in order of value produced in 20174
    • 82.8 million megawatt hours: hydroelectricity produced in 20175
    • 7.48 million megawatt hours: wind produced in 20175
    • 1.7 million megawatt hours: wood-derived fuels produced in 20175

    Natural Hazards in Washington

    • 132 total disaster declarations, including 78 fire, 28 flood, and 16 severe storm disasters (1953-2017)6
    • $38 million: individual assistance grants (2005-2017)6
    • $145 million: mitigation grants (2005-2017)6
    • $571 million: preparedness grants (2005-2017)6
    • $327 million: public assistance grants (2005-2017)⁶
    • 23 weather and/or climate events, each with costs exceeding $1 billion (inflation adjusted) (1980-2017)7

    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 

    • $1.15 billion: total USGS budget in FY 2018 (5.8% increase from FY 2017)8
    • The National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program funds geologic mapping projects with federal (FEDMAP), state (STATEMAP), and university (EDMAP) partners
    • $4.14 million: Washington STATEMAP funding (1993-2016)9
    • 4 Washington universities, including University of Washington and Washington State Univserity, have participated in EDMAP9
    • USGS streamgages collect real-time or recent streamflow, groundwater, and water-quality data for Washington

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    • $20.7 billion: total NASA budget in FY 2018 (5.5% increase from FY 2017)10
    • $1.9 billion: total NASA Earth Science budget in FY 2018 (0% change from FY 2017)10
    • Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites measure groundwater changes in Washington
    • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite measures soil moisture in Washington

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    • $5.9 billion: total NOAA budget in FY 2018 (4.1% increase from FY 2017)11
    • Next-generation geostationary (GOES) and polar orbiting (JPSS) satellites provide weather forecasting for Washington
    • Deep Space Climate Observatory (DISCOVR) satellite monitors radiation and air quality over Washington
    • 28 National Weather Service Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) stations in Washington12
    • 195 National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) sites in Washington12

    National Science Foundation (NSF)

    • $7.8 billion: total NSF budget in FY 2018 (4% increase from FY 2017)13
    • $1.4 billion: total NSF Geosciences Directorate (GEO) awards in FY 2017 (7.2% increase from FY 2016)14
    • 111 NSF GEO awards in Washington totaling $34.4 million in 201714
    • $29 million: NSF GEO grants awarded to University of Washington in 201714

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    • $8.1 billion: total EPA budget in FY 2018 (0% change from FY 2017)15
    • 49 active Superfund sites in Washington in 201816
    • $18.4 million: Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grants in Washington in 201717

    Federal Facilities in Washington

    • USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver
    • NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Port Angeles
    • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Seattle
    • NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle
    • DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland
    • DOE Office of River Protection - Hanford Site, Richland


    1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017
    2. American Geosciences Institute, Directory of Geoscience Departments, 53rd Edition (2018)
    3. U.S. Geological Survey, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2015
    4. U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018
    5. U.S. Energy Information Administration
    6. FEMA Data Visualization: Summary of Disaster Declarations and Grants (accessed May 2, 2018)
    7. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters from 1980 to 2018 (accessed April 6, 2018)
    8. U.S. Department of the Interior, FY 2019 Budet in Brief
    9. U.S. Geological Survey, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program
    10. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FY 2019 Budget Estimates
    11. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FY 2019 Bluebook
    12. NOAA In Your State and Territory
    13. U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill (Division B) – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
    14. National Science Foundation, Budget Information System
    15. U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill (Division G) – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
    16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund Sites
    17. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund National Information Management System Reports

    Date updated: 2018-08-30

    Compiled by the AGI Geoscience Policy Program, July 2018

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