July 23, 2014
The long-term drought cutting off California's water supply continues to parch the state, and even NASA can see it now.
With the entire state now in severe drought, NASA's Aqua satellite took a picture of California to compare the terrain with a similar image taken on July 2, 2011. In the image above, you can first see the picture acquired June 24, then the 2011 shot.
In 119 years of records, 2013 was the driest calendar year for California, and the drought has only worsened in 2014, according to NASA.
(MORE: They Tried to Conserve Water, But Then This Happened)
“The American West and Southwest are definitely on the ropes,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in the NASA report. “Even with a possible El Niño lurking in the tropical Pacific, there is no quick fix to this drought. It will take years of above-average rainfall to recover, and dramatic restrictions on water usage to maintain California’s economy. The time to tighten our water conservation belts is now.”
In the animated image, California's Central Valley appears to have lost much of its plant life, as the green portion in the middle of the image has thinned in the last three years. Also, it's important to note how much of the brown shading in western California has turned a lighter shade – likely signifying dried-out lakes and parched soil.
The U.S. Drought Monitor tells a similar tale of California's dire situation in the span between the two satellite photos. The first image is California's drought situation – nearly nonexistent – on June 28, 2011, while the second, more colorful image was posted on June 24, 2014. The areas shaded in orange are in a severe drought, according to data collected by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the light red shade signifies an extreme drought, and the dark red is the worst drought category on the scale, also known as exceptional drought.