drought


Empty water hole caused by drought.
Empty water holes caused by the drought on Walnut Creek Ranch in CA in 2014. Photo: Cynthia Mendoza, USDA/CC BY 2.0-Flickr

Preparing for Severe Climate Events: a Q+A with Drought Experts

, Kendall Science Fellow

In the most recent days and weeks when stories of floods and hurricanes have dominated the news, it might be easy to miss that 44% of the country is experiencing drought conditions. I am not a meteorologist—just an agricultural scientist obsessed with the weather—so I often wonder what happens in the weather room when there is a severe event, like a hurricane or tornado. Is it total chaos? Flashing lights and buzzing alarms? What about severe climate events that last longer than a few hours, such as drought? Read more >

Photo: Cynthia Mendoza, USDA/CC-BY-2.0, Flickr
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Is Soil a Secret Weapon? On Agriculture and Climate Adaptation

, Kendall Science Fellow

“The oldest task in human history. To live on a piece of land without spoiling it.” Read more >

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Steering Toward Sustainability: How California’s New Groundwater Law Can Help Us From Driving Off a Cliff

, climate scientist

According to new research by NASA, many of the world’s biggest aquifers are being depleted at a much faster rate than they can be replenished, and California’s Central Valley is among the worst. As we all know, California is in the fourth year of an exceptional drought. When surface water supplies are scarce, we turn to groundwater. Unfortunately, our combined groundwater uses have led to chronic overdraft in many places. Like a bank account, overdraft means we are withdrawing more than we are replacing. Together, this exceptional drought along with the undesirable condition of many groundwater basins, led California to pass the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act last year. The Act is a big deal since it represents the first statewide effort to comprehensively measure and manage groundwater.

Now that the dust is settling, water users and managers are wondering: what does the Act mean for us? Read more >

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2015 Wildfire Season in Oregon: Dangerously High Risks Underscore Need for Action on Climate Change

, lead economist and climate policy manager

Like much of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is facing the risk of a bad wildfire season this summer. With 86 percent of the state in drought and 34 percent experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency for 15 counties. The state’s May water supply outlook predicts that, with sixty percent of the monitoring sites setting records for the lowest peak snowpack levels in 30 years, it is likely that there will be water shortages this summer. Capping carbon emissions, as proposed in HB 3470, is an important contribution Oregon can make toward limiting future climate risks, including from drought and wildfires. Read more >

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High and Dry: Reservoir Levels Tell Only Half the Story, Leaving California Dry as Drought Continues

, climate scientist

You’ve probably heard about the California drought by now. If you live in California, it’s hard to hear about anything else. Unfortunately, the drought may be even worse than we realize, because the way we often measure water supply doesn’t consider future water availability. By relying on measurements of current reservoir levels, agencies in charge of water distribution are missing an important part of the water supply picture, leaving their customers vulnerable to longer and more severe droughts.

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