Wednesday, August 4

Aerial photos capture the devastation of the California drought that’s shriveling vegetation and drying up reservoirs

  • An extreme drought in California is drying up lakes and reservoirs and straining electrical grids.
  • Agriculture and tourism could be severely impacted, and wildfires are likely to rage this summer.
  • Aerial photographs show how much the drought has already devastated California’s landscape.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Boats sit on dry land. Once-lush palm trees are now brown and shriveled. And waterways that were formerly deep and flowing have been reduced to puddles of toxic residue.

This is the landscape in parts of California, which is experiencing a historic mega-drought that is expected to strain the state’s electrical grid and dry up water supplies — water levels are 50% lower than normal at more than 1,500 reservoirs statewide, Jay Lund, codirector of the Center for Watershed Sciences at University of California, Davis, told Morning Brew. Given that 25% of the nation’s food is grown in California, extreme droughts could decimate crops like avocados and almonds.

The drought has also made is harder for ranchers to supply water to their livestock, the state’s boating industry is taking a hit, and tourism, which supports roughly 2 million jobs in California, could be severely impacted by the dangerous heat waves.

As of Friday, more than 85% of the state was classified as being in “extreme drought,” according to the National Integrated Drought Information System, and experts say this is only the beginning: The dry conditions make California even more susceptible to deadly wildfires, which burned more than 4 million acres last year.

Read more: Meet the West Coast entrepreneurs founding startups to fight wildfires, combat the effects of climate change, and tap into a market potentially worth billions

“This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years. And the reason is linked directly to human-caused climate change,” Kathleen Johnson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Irvine, told The Guardian.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked residents to cut back on their water usage by 15% by taking shorter showers and running dishwashers and washing machines more sparingly.

Amid the devastating conditions, Reuters photographer Aude Guerrucci captured aerial photos of the impacts of the drought on California’s landscape. Take a look:

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