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California's terrifying drought, summed up in two satellite images

Illustration for article titled Californias terrifying drought, summed up in two satellite images

California has declared a state of emergency after enduring months of a drought that has left the state with only half the rainfall of the lowest rainfall year on record. Nothing captures the foreboding more than these two stark images.

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California farms supply food to many other parts of the country and the world, so drought here could have dire repercussions economically. Above, you can see a satellite photo of California's Sierra Nevada mountains taken a few days ago. Below, is a photo taken of the same place one year ago. Note the radically different snow cover, and how the valley areas are a barren brown instead of a deep green.

Illustration for article titled Californias terrifying drought, summed up in two satellite images
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For those of us here in California, it feels like the apocalypse may begin with balmy, beautiful weather.

Images via NASA's Earth Observatory

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DISCUSSION

What bothers me is that there are newspaper articles already stating that various locales still have "plenty of water"—which is fine for reassurance that there will be water to drink this year, but which ignores the fact that the whole state's water is a complicated whole. (I'm also a bit annoyed by the L.A. Times article that implies that the Sacramento area is a bunch of water-wasters, totally ignoring the fact that a lot of that water goes to backyard agriculture. I'm reluctantly going without a garden this summer, which means no backyard salads.)