NASA helps California battle drought with space tech

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

drought California
California is looking awfully dusty in this satellite photo.

If you’ve noticed more commercials on TV asking to take shorter showers, it’s because California is in a drought – an extended period of time with low water supply. This isn’t the worst one in history, but it’s definitely the worst modern drought. Now, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is teaming up with NASA to fight the ongoing drought, and possibly prevent ones in the future with space tech.

For example, the DWR is taking advantage of NASA satellites for a unique perspective on the drought. This bird’s eye view will be used to map California Central Valley’s fallowed land – areas that aren’t being used to grow crops. It seems farmers choose not to use these plots of land because underground water pumping is causing the dirt to sink down. The satellite images are also going to be used to predict weather more accurately, so experts can better identify when another dry spell is coming and the state can prepare in advance.

In another project, NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory will use its latest advances to map snow in certain areas. The idea is that by analyzing how much sunlight the snow absorbs, scientists can determine how fast it melts, and therefore predict how quickly water will become available for the parched state.

There are currently 13 NASA satellites focused on water at the moment, so hopefully they can help California overcome its water shortages.

Images courtesy of NASA.