Drought has gripped much of the western U.S. this year, with a particular stranglehold in California. In 2014, the majority of the state was classified as experiencing “extreme” to “exceptional” drought. Even recent large storms, while welcome, have not made much of a dent in the state's water deficit after several hot, dry years. This drought, ongoing for three years and counting, presents several complex, important issues:
- Reliance on Snowpack: California's current water infrastructure depends largely on snowpack. But this dependency will pose significant challenges in the future. Unlike the majority of the U.S.,...
guest post from Maggi Kelly, UC Berkeley
Scientists in my native state of California were handed a gift: a trove of detailed information about the state's forests taken during the 1920s and 1930s and digitized over the past 15 years. When we compared this historical data – covering an area bigger than Great Britain – to current forests surveys, we found that California's famed giant trees are suffering due to drier and warmer conditions.
This change to the forest landscape is important not only to the people of California. Large trees are huge sinks of carbon dioxide, provide...
California rancher Dan Macon knows firsthand that waiting can be an excruciating experience. As a small-scale sheep rancher in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, he has spent a lot of time waiting for rain during the state's ongoing drought. Macon's livelihood is tied to the land and particularly to water: a vital ingredient in creating the unique grasslands his animals depend on. Good-natured and thoughtful, he waits for rain and tries to get through with, as he puts it, a mix of “humor and commiseration.”
- Author: Doug Parker
- Author: Faith Kearns
These days, it seems everyone is looking for a silver bullet solution to California's drought. Some advocate increasing supply through more storage, desalination or water reuse. Others propose controlling demand through conservation or restriction of water use by urban and agricultural users.
Rarely do proponents of these single solutions seem to fully appreciate the complexity of California's water situation.
The fact is that in this large and semi-arid state, water is intimately tied to every aspect of life. Over time, we have consistently increased supplies while reducing demands to support a growing population and higher levels of agricultural commodity production.
A good rule of thumb to go by when...
- Author: Faith Kearns, PhD
This is a guest post from Missy Gable, UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program; Dave Fujino, California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis; Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension; Chuck Ingels, UC Cooperative Extension; Loren Oki, UC Davis; and Karrie Reid, UC Cooperative Extension.
Water scarcity is part of life in California, which has been made even clearer in this fourth year of drought. The state's long-term forecast includes less snow pack and increased demand on our diminished water resources. In response, Californians are evaluating their water use, both in the landscape and the home. An obvious sign of changing landscape practices are...