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202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is



The following drought maps of California are weekly, from the beginning of 2011 to now.

202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is

202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is

If there is one thing we are tuned in here to at Visual Capitalist, it is the value of all natural resources: from metals and energy to fresh water. With population, money, and economic growth all happening at exponential rates, and only a limited amount of underlying resources, there are problems abound.

We had a previous post discussing the possibility of Peak Water as well, and it is something we are also addressing in our editorial calendar with an upcoming original infographic series on overpopulation.

California has been the victim of years of drought now, and it has cost the state dearly. It’s expected to cost , with the loss of 17,000 jobs as farmers must fallow their regular cash crops.

The Week published an interesting excerpt about the impact of the drought on California aquifers and infrastructure:

The drought has prompted farmers to race to drill wells into the Central Valley’s aquifers and access the underground water reserves. “He with the biggest pump or deepest straw wins,” says Felicia Marcus, chair of the state’s water board. But though this groundwater will replace about three quarters of the current deficit from rivers and streams, pumping is certainly not a sustainable solution to the crisis: Sucking water out of aquifers has caused the ground to compact and sink almost a foot a year in some regions of the San Joaquin Valley, causing $1.3 billion of infrastructure damage to roads, bridges, and pipelines. Worse, these depleted aquifers can take decades to replenish.

Nearly 75% of all California fresh water comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, and right now it is reduced to only about 20% of its usual size.

Sadly, we expect fresh water problems to be more common in the future as aquifers get depleted and climate changes happen.

Original graphic from: The LA Times

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Here’s Why the Amazon is So Important for Global Food Security

The Amazon rainforest plays a critical role in supporting crop growth by stabilizing the climate and balancing water cycles.



Amazons flying river cycle
The following content is sponsored by Brazil Potash

Why is the Amazon Rainforest Important for Food Security?

The Amazon rainforest is home to 400 billion trees and covers 6.7 million square kilometers, but the ‘Earth’s lungs’, as it is commonly referred to, is so much more than that.

Aside from being a key carbon sink, it also plays a critical role in supporting crop growth by stabilizing the climate and balancing water cycles.

In this infographic, our sponsor Brazil Potash looks at how the Amazon regulates rainfall and temperature and how crop yields can be optimized. Let’s dive in.

Rainfall as a Primary Water Source

Flying rivers” are air currents that carry enormous amounts of water vapor over thousands of kilometers. These airborne rivers are responsible for influencing regional and global weather patterns, including rainfall. 

The Amazon flying river cycle begins with water evaporating from the Atlantic Ocean. Wind currents then transport these vapors across the continent, exchanging moisture with the Amazon rainforest through evapotranspiration. Finally, these aerial rivers distribute the moisture as rain.

The trees in the Amazon rainforest release around 20 billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere daily—this is more water than the Mississippi River discharges in 13 months.

Because only around 6% of cropland in Brazil is irrigated, the region relies heavily on this rainfall as a primary water source to support crop growth that feeds both local and global communities.

Temperature Regulation

The Amazon also absorbs billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year through photosynthesis. By absorbing this CO2, it helps regulate temperatures and lessen the effects of climate change.

According to NASA research, the cumulative effects of climate change, accelerated by deforestation, may result in the loss of up to 11 million hectares of agricultural land in Brazil by the 2030s. 

The continued sustainable production of Brazil’s crops is essential to food security, but deforestation can harm these efforts.

How to Grow More With Less

Brazil hosts the largest section of the Amazon rainforest at around 60%. The country is also one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural goods. 

It’s essential for global food security and for climate change that crop yields in Brazil are increased in areas already allocated for agriculture, instead of clearing new areas in the Amazon rainforest. 

A recent study highlights a significant yield gap in Brazil’s primary export, soybeans. 

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A yield gap is the difference between actual crop yield and potential crop yield.

RegionYieldYield Gap
Atlantic Forest76%24%

The following steps proposed could optimize land usage:

  1. Increase crop yields: This can be done in part by optimizing and increasing fertilizer use. Local fertilizer suppliers are essential to this by providing affordable and accessible fertilizer year-round.
  2. Double Crop: Continuing to grow a second crop of corn on soybean fields between seasons to optimize land usage. Additional fertilizer is essential to maintain the soil’s nutrients after harvests.
  3. Raise cattle on smaller pastures: By streamlining the space provided for cattle, additional cropland can be added to support food for both people and livestock.

The Role of Brazil Potash

Brazil Potash aims to support the preservation of the Amazon rainforest by working with farmers to increase crop yields and improve the quality and quantity of food grown, without the need for land expansion.

By keeping farmers informed of fertilizer’s benefits and supporting a more stable supply of local fertilizer, Brazil Potash will continue supporting farming communities for generations to come.

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Click here to learn more about sustainable crop growth in the Amazon and Brazil Potash.

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