The European Drought Observatory maps drought the way meteorologists map extreme weather: it maps watches, warnings and alerts based on a lack of rainfall, a lack of soil moisture, and stress to vegetation following a lack of moisture, respectively. In addition to the online map viewer, there is a comparison tool and a way to generate your own maps from the data, among other tools. As of early August, the Observatory says, 47 percent of EU territory is facing warning conditions, 17 percent in alert conditions. It’s been a bad summer. [Maps Mania]
Drought Affects One-Third of the United States
One-third of the United States is currently affected by at least moderate levels of drought, NASA Earth Observatory reports.
The map above shows conditions in the continental U.S. as of August 11, 2020, as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor program, a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. The map depicts drought intensity in progressive shades of orange to red and is based on measurements of climate, soil, and water conditions from more than 350 federal, state, and local observers around the country. NASA provides experimental measurements and models to this drought monitoring effort.
According to the Drought Monitor, more than 93 percent of the land area in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico is in some level of drought; 69 percent of Utah is in severe drought, as is 61 percent of Colorado. More than three-fourths of Oregon, Arizona, and Wyoming are also in drought. The effects of “severe” drought include stunted and browning crops, limited pasture yields, dust storms, reduced well water levels, and an increase in the number and severity of wildfires. Most of those areas had no sign of drought in the mid-summer of 2019.
Mapping Natural Disasters in France
In response to the latest round of flash floods in France, The Local has a piece looking at natural disasters in France that points to a set of interactive maps from France Info (in French; page doesn’t work well in Safari) that show the number of natural disasters, by commune, since 1982, as well as the number of disasters due to flooding and drought. The maps indicate where the disaster hot spots are in France and (to some extent) where they aren’t: only 3.5 percent of French communes have never had a disaster declaration in that period. Sixty percent of the disasters were due to flooding; The Local also points to the Global Flood Map: zooming in sufficiently shows the zones for high and moderate risk of flooding. [Gretchen Peterson]
Five Years of Drought
Cartographer John Nelson, whose relatively new but infrequently updated map blog is Adventures in Mapping, recently posted the above map to Twitter: it shows the intensity and variability of drought in the United States over the past five years. It’s not necessarily an easy map to read at first glance, but it’s striking to look at nonetheless.
Lake Poopó Dries Up
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Lake Poopó has become the Aral Sea of the Andes. Thanks to drought, water diversion and mining activity, the lake—long, wide, shallow, saline and the second-largest in Bolivia—has basically dried up, as this comparison of 2013 and 2016 Landsat 8 images demonstrates. CBC News, The Independent.
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