While you can never draw any conclusions about trends or the effects of climate change by comparing the weather in one year to another year, these two images, just one year apart, certainly offer a shocking view of the relentless drought that is gripping California. California is no stranger to heat and water shortages, but vast swathes of western U.S. are experiencing extremely dry conditions, the likes of which haven’t been seen there since 1977.

The two images were captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The image on the left is from 12 June 2021 and the image on the right from 22 June 2020. The difference is clear to see, not only is the Angeles National Forest brown and at high risk of fire compared to the lush green of last year, but water in the reservoirs is severely depleted. In fact, the reservoirs are about 50% lower than they should be at this time of year, and the San Gabriel reservoir is almost dry. California is reported to have recorded its driest February in 150 years and 95% of the state is now a victim of ‘severe drought’, which, unfortunately, can only be bad news for the rest of the summer.