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Here’s How California’s Bounce Back From Drought Looked From Space

Landsat satellites and airborne observatories monitored the state’s driest period in recorded history.

California is bouncing back from a devastating drought that ran from 2011 to 2015, and marked the state's driest period since scientists first started keeping records in 1895.

This view of this recovery from the ground—complete with blossoming greenery and snowy summers—has brought much relief to Californians. But perhaps the most dramatic perspectives on the drought and its fallout were captured from outer space, by NASA's Earth-observing satellites, as detailed in the above visual compilation posted on Monday.


The toll that the dry period took on California's landscape is obvious from the vantagepoint of NASA and the US Geological Survey's Landsat constellation in orbit, as well as high-flying research planes like the Airborne Snow Observatory. Take this time-lapse of rapidly receding snow cover over the Sierra Nevada mountain range from April 2014 to March 2015.

This browning trend was finally reversed over the past year, as precipitation doubled and flooded the parched landscape.

Earth science at NASA, and other federal arms, has been consistently deprioritized by the Trump administration.

Read More: Trump Team Thinks NASA Should Study Planets, Just Not the One We Live On

These visualizations are a reminder of the value of NASA's Earth Observatory, an information hub for the agency's Earth-focused research, which keeps tabs on the planet's ever-shifting dynamics and its impact on human life and biodiversity.

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