The most recent (as of March 24, 2014) estimate of soil moisture deficit. Source: NASA GRACE-based satellite data.
Additional Things We’ll Be Tracking in the Coming Months
Hydropower Generation: California’s ability to generate hydroelectricity always drops during droughts, leading to higher costs, greater use of fossil fuels, and increased emissions of greenhouse gases. We’ll evaluate this problem as the season continues.
Fire Frequency: The risks of wildfires increase during droughts. We’ll report on the fire season later in the year.
Agricultural Production: There is concern about impacts of water shortages on farm production, employment, and income, but until data are available on actual production, acreages left fallow, crop prices for California’s commodities, and more, it is not possible to accurately estimate what the overall impacts will be. We will report on this later in the year as data become available.
Fisheries Impacts: California has, for many years, perched on the edge of ecological fisheries collapse, especially in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. New pressures on water resources imposed by the drought and by growing demands to weaken environmental protections will have an impact on California’s fisheries that will become evident later in the year and in subsequent years.
For more information, visit the Pacific Institute’s California Drought website.