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Just how bad is California’s drought right now?

Answer: Really, really bad.

Dry, cracked dirt surrounded by dry grass on a plain.
In case you didn’t already know, California, along with much of the western U.S., is in a pretty bad drought right now after experiencing an incredibly dry winter. But if you really want to see just how bad it is, just take a look at some satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA) comparing the landscape in 2020 and 2021.

The ESA recently captured a satellite image of Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Reservoir in Southern California and compared it to an image of the same area at about the same time last year. In 2020, the landscape is mostly lush and green and the reservoir appears to have a decent amount of water. But today, it almost doesn’t look like the same place. There’s a whole lot less green, with most of the vegetation appearing brown or red. And the reservoir is concerningly low on water.

And just to unnerve you more, the western U.S. isn’t the only place where satellites are picking up on the effects of these concerning new heat trends. The Copernicus Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites recently captured thermal images of the surface temperatures in Siberia, Russia, during a recent heat wave, and it is not a pretty picture. At a peak of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperatures up there — where it’s supposed to be, you know, cold — were way above average.
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