Researchers Reveal Effects of California Drought

Trees are dying, snowpack is gone

A drought state of emergency was declared for California in January. (Ray Bouknight/Flickr)

A little more than a month after California Governor Jerry Brown issued the first mandatory water restrictions in the state’s history, the bad news continues to roll out regarding the drought afflicting much of the West.

An estimated 12 million trees have died in California forests over the past year due to extreme drought conditions, KPBS reported Monday. The estimate was based on an aerial survey conducted from April 8 to April 17 by the U.S. Forest Service. The survey was visually conducted by flying a fixed-wing aircraft 1,000 feet above ground while digitally mapping the territory below.

Additionally, state officials canceled a planned snowpack measurement on May 1 because there would be no snow to measure, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The Sierra Nevada snowpack typically accounts for about 30 percent of the state’s water supply when it melts in spring and summer. On April 1, the snowpack’s water content was 5 percent of normal—a historic low. Readings taken Thursday indicate the snowpack’s water content is about half an inch, just 3 percent of normal, according to the Los Angeles Times

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