Quantcast

Startling Footage of California Reservoirs Shows Devastating Impact of Epic Drought

Climate

If you're wondering how much damage four years of an epic drought can wreck, look no further than the condition of California's depleted reservoirs. In new footage of the Folsom, Oroville and Shasta reservoirs—captured by the California Department of Water Resources (CA-DWR) on July 20—it's genuinely startling to see how little water remains.

The CA-DWR wrote on Facebook that Folsom Lake measured at 34 percent of capacity, Lake Oroville at 35 percent and Lake Shasta at 45 percent.

Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a professor at UC Irvine, estimated that California's reservoirs have only about a one-year supply of water remaining.

These before-and-after images from the CA-DWR illustrate the extent of the drought's damage even further. (But don't be too alarmed, "reservoirs provide only a portion of the water used in California and are designed to store only a few years' supply," the Los Angeles Times noted).

The ongoing drought has left a profound impact on California water resources. So much has changed in just four years. Photo credit: CA-DWR

CityLab noted that 71 percent of California is currently experiencing "extreme" or "exceptional drought," while 100 percent of the state is experiencing some form of drought.

Meanwhile, conditions across the drought-wracked region are continuing to break records. Temperatures in the Northwest are in the 90s-100s, at 10 to 15 degrees above normal and even 20 degrees in a few locations, according Accuweather.

Read page 1

Additionally, in a new study cited by Climate Central, "the amount of rain that California has missed out on since the beginning of its record-setting drought in 2012 is about the same amount it would see, on average, in a single year."

"To dig out of the drought in just one winter, the state would have to see 200 percent of its normal yearly rain, to cover both that year's rain and make up the missing amount," Climate Central reported.

There's hope that El Niño will bring some relief, however the DWR is uncertain if the rain will reverse any damage already done to the reservoirs.

“Scientists say there's a 90-percent chance of a strong one forming in the Pacific this winter, but will rain fill Northern California reservoirs?" the department asked. “State Climatologist Mike Anderson says this drama's ending is still unwritten: 'Unfortunately, even a strong El Niño doesn't correlate to a particular outcome for California.'"

On an encouraging note, water-conscious west coasters are making strides in cutting back on water usage, and Californians are exceeding the 25 percent cutback mandated by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The state's water board announced that despite the record-breaking heat in June, Californians continued to conserve water, reducing water use by 27.3 percent. Additionally, urban water suppliers exceeded the statewide conservation goal, saving 59.4 billion gallons (182,151 acre-feet), as compared to the same time in 2013.

“Californians understand the severity of the drought and they are taking action, as shown by the numbers released today," said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

"We didn't know if the positive showing in May was due in part to cooler temperatures. This report shows that residents knew they had to keep conserving even during the summer heat and they kept the sprinklers off more than they would in a normal year," she continued. "That's the right attitude as we head into August and September heat—in the drought of the century with no certain end date."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Harmful Algal Blooms Predicted for Lake Erie, Says NOAA

Watch The Yes Men's Comical Solution to California's Epic Drought

5 Signs the Historic Drought Is Getting Much Worse

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pope Francis flanked by representatives of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups and catholic prelates march in procession during the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region at The Vatican on Oct. 07 in Vatican City, Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis News / Getty Images

By Vincent J. Miller

The Catholic Church "hears the cry" of the Amazon and its peoples. That's the message Pope Francis hopes to send at the Synod of the Amazon, a three-week meeting at the Vatican that ends Oct. 27.

Read More Show Less

The crowd appears to attack a protestor in a video shared on Twitter by ITV journalist Mahatir Pasha. VOA News / Youtube screenshot

Some London commuters had a violent reaction Thursday morning when Extinction Rebellion protestors attempted to disrupt train service during rush hour.

Read More Show Less
Some fruit drinks may appear to be healthier, but many can have high levels of added sugars. d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

By Kristen Fischer

Though the science has shown sugary drinks are not healthy for children, fruit drinks and similar beverages accounted for more than half of all children's drink sales in 2018, according to a new report.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Donald Trump attends the opening of Red Tiger Golf Course at Trump National Doral on Jan. 12, 2015 in Doral, Florida. Johnny Louis / FilmMagic

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made two controversial announcements about the 2020 Group of Seven (G7) summit: it will be hosted at one of President Donald Trump's golf resorts in Miami and it won't feature any discussion of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

View of an Ivorian cleared forest at the edge of the 35.000 hectares Peko Mont National Park on Oct. 8, 2016. The Mont Péko National Park is located in the west of Ivory Coast where the forest officers fight with illegal immigrants to protect an exceptional flora and fauna, espacially dwarf elephants. SIA KAMBOU / AFP / Getty Images

Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less