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California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons of Water To End Drought

This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014.
NASA JPL
This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014.

California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons of Water To End Drought
California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons of Water To End Drought

For the first time, scientists used data from satellites to calculate what it takes to end a drought.

For California, it’s a sobering statistic: 11 trillion gallons or about 30 million acre feet. That's around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest reservoir in the United States, according to NASA.

The finding was released by NASA scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Water scientist Jay Famiglietti with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory led a team of scientists that made this calculation. He said the new research can be used to inform water management decisions in the state.

“We have a target that we can shoot for, now the next step is to really work on quantifying when it rains a certain amount how much of that can actually end up in storage,” Famiglietti said.

NASA scientists also released an equally grim picture of the amount of water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in early 2014.

Data from NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory indicated that the snowpack was only half of previous estimates and the worst since 1977.

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