In just a matter of weeks, a very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions in California as a series of storms coated mountains with heavy blankets of snow and unleashed drenching rains. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 that about a third of the state has no significant dryness and only about 10 percent of the state falls into categories of drought.
Tourists walk on the wet sidewalk Jan. 6 near the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nearly half of California has emerged from a five-year drought, thanks in part to heavy rainfall this month, according to a recent report. The weekly United States Drought Monitor report released Thursday indicates roughly 49 percent of the state is no longer under drought conditions. By comparison, only 5 percent of the state was drought-free one year ago. This week marked the first time since January 2014 that no part of the state faced "exceptional drought" conditions, which is the most severe drought category.
Prolonged forest stress, such as drought, affects litterfall. Drought resulting from climate change is becoming pervasive. Increasing research effort is being focused on the ecological effects of drought on the world's tropical forested regions. Rowland et al. measured the multiyear effects of drought on the litterfall of leaves, flowers and fruits, and twigs in a Brazilian forest. Drought was simulated by covering a 1-hectare experimental plot with plastic panels 1 to 2 meters above the ground.
During the dictatorship of Spain's Francisco Franco more than half a century ago, dams and reservoirs were built across the country in order to improve water supplies. Towns and villages were relocated while the original structures were flooded. Along with the once busy streets, even older Roman architecture was lost. Last summer marked the driest period that Spain's northwestern Galicia region has seen since 1981. This ongoing drought has led to reservoir levels falling to just 25 percent of normal capacity.
A visitor walks near the receding waters at Folsom Lake, which is 17 percent of its capacity, in Folsom, California. California Gov. Jerry Brown has officially declared an end to the state's yearslong drought. The governor signed an executive order Friday that lifted the state of emergency declaration he signed in 2014, which directed the state to take "all necessary actions" to prepare for drought conditions. The order does not lift, however, the drought emergency in four counties -- Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne -- which still face low groundwater supplies. Brown's latest action follow months of heavy precipitation that filled reservoirs and ended dry conditions in many areas.