California is in the middle of a crushing, and steadily worsening, drought. It's also one of our top agricultural producers. So just what does this drought mean for our food supply?


Top image: California riverbed, post-drought / NOAA.

These twin infrared satellite images, taken three years apart of the same region in Northern California in 2011 and 2014 give some indication of what we might expect:



Though the red glow spread out over the land may look alarming, it's actually it's absence that is concerning. The red color indicates photosynthesis activity, and is a pretty good indicator of how agriculturally productive a region is.

Interestingly, though most of the image shows native plant growth, there's also a region of the image in the lower lefthand corner that scientists identified as farmland. And that light pink area remained mostly unchanged both pre- and post- drought, which indicates that at least for the moment, irrigation practices are still keeping the crops growing in this farm.


Satellite images: NASA Earth Observatory image / Jesse Allen.