NG STAFF. SOURCE: PRISM CLIMATE GROUP, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
In February 2015, while temperatures in the eastern U.S. were far colder than normal, mountain temperatures in the western U.S. were far warmer than normal, ranging from 7 to 13 degrees above average, hampering the buildup of snowpack.
My March 4 piece at National Geographic takes a look at the scarce snowpack situation in the West. While media attention has focused on the frigid and snowbound East, California and parts of the West have been facing a winter too warm to build up essential snowpack needed for summer water supplies. California, which has seen record temperatures, faces a fourth year of drought.
The picture above of the Coachella Valley showing Rancho Mirage (in the lower left) and Palm Desert California is part of a series of images from a flight I took early last summer June 25, 2014 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Washington DC (IAD). This was a commercial flight, window seat, the window was fairly clear, I shot what I could see. It has taken several months to edit the images.
The flickr set will expand as I get pictures posted. You can see other aerials here from 2014, 2013 and 2012. Pictures from other recent flights await editing. Though the camera is not GPS enabled I able to identify image locations by following the general route of the airplane across the U.S. in Google Earth and then comparing the photographs to correlating images in Google Earth.
The picture below shows a cattle feedlot and circular fields of irrigated crops in the Texas Panhandle north of the town of Hereford. (Lat.: 35°02'02.78" N Long.: 102°27'33.21 W.) The water comes from the Ogallala Aquifer, a depleting groundwater source also known as the High Plains Aquifer. I wrote about the effects of aquifer depletion in the High Plains and elsewhere last year.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GODDARD SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION STUDIO, NASA
This satellite image of the Arctic ice cap shows the extent of summer sea ice in 2012, compared with summer sea ice in 1979 (yellow outline), when satellites first observed the area. Now about half of the ice cap melts in summer due to rising global temperatures.
My latest piece for National Geographic online, posted February 2:
This week scientists released some new pictures of retreating glaciers in Greenland, comparing them for the first time with pictures taken about 80 years ago. The top image taken in summer 2013 shows ice retreat af about two miles compared to the bottom picture taken in summer 1935.
These pictures were taken in the vicinity of Sukkertoppen Ice Cap in southwest Greenland. While the alignment of the pair here is not perfect, you get the idea by comparing shoreline landscape features.
Researcher Anders Bjørk of the Natural History Museum of Denmark has been re-photographing Greenland's retreating glaciers. Studying old photographs of the glaciers helped reveal a previously unknown period of rapid glacial melt in Greenland between 1900 and 1930, a time before satellite observations began.