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NASA is using satellites to track California's terrible drought

NASA is using satellites to track California's terrible drought

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Last year was the driest for most of California since record-keeping began in 1849. That's caused stress for farmers, state officials, and the federal government, which has lined up aid packages and legislation to bolster drought-related relief. Now California's Department of Water Resources and NASA are partnering to track weather and geological features, part of an effort to gain more insight into the state's weather patterns, and possibly its future.

More satellites are coming

The two groups today announced a plan to work together using satellites and airplanes to evaluate when storms will hit, as well as to measure existing snowpack and groundwater levels. Right now, 13 of NASA's satellites track water on the earth, reports The Associated Press, with four more that will be launched in the next seven years. One of those launches later this week and is part of a joint effort with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to track both rain and snowfall worldwide.

Both NASA and the DWR originally partnered in 2009, and have worked on numerous projects since. That list includes keeping an eye on California's delta levees and unused farmlands from above, as well as estimating how much water agricultural crops will need.