California suffering through driest three years ever recorded, with no relief in sight
Published: June 10, 2014
Last Updated: May 3, 2018
California’s annual precipitation has declined by nearly 30 percent since the 1950s, with less surface water available to wetlands that once sustained an astonishing biodiversity. The state is home to more than 500 species of fish and amphibians, many of which were wiped out by a 20-year drought.
California is experiencing the steepest decline in statewide water resources in the United States. It’s also home to some of the most significant freshwater biodiversity, including the state’s only native dune region and its only population of the endangered red-legged frog.
What’s happening could be devastating for the state’s water supply, but also for its fragile natural environments. The average temperature in California has roughly doubled over the last century, which is causing more droughts, and is contributing to a projected decline in precipitation that could have effects on California’s agricultural land and climate-resilient forests.
California’s drought is in many ways unique.
The state is experiencing the steepest decline in statewide water resources in the United States. It’s also home to the state’s only native dune region and its only population of the endangered red-legged frog. Climate change is also playing a role. Water use in California is projected to increase by 40% by 2080, which is likely to exacerbate the state’s water problems.
“It’s not like we’re seeing a global trend away from droughts,” Dr. Jonathan B. Pielke, a water expert with NOAA, said in an interview. “California is simply the biggest droughts on Earth.”
The state has already experienced the most prolonged drought in its history, with many areas receiving no rain for months at a time. And this year’s lack of rain will only aggravate the state’s water-related woes.
“This isn’t unusual,” Dr. Pielke said. “California is one of the most droughty states in the country, but not by much