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Timelapse footage from space shows parts of Australia going through the worst drought in 120 years

High and dry: Amazing timelapse footage of the Australian drought from space shows how land has become red and arid while green areas have all but disappeared

  • The Murray Darling Basin is going through the worst drought in 120 years
  • Climatologists say it is worse than the Federation drought (1891-1903)
  • Most dams are currently operating much below their water holding capacity 

Incredible timelapse footage from space has revealed the shocking extent of the Australian drought. 

The images taken using Google Earth Engine’s Timelapse tool shows a much greener land mass in 1984.

Fast forward to 2018 and Australia appears much redder and drier.

Australia is experiencing its worst drought on record, according to climatologist David Jones.

Satellite footage over the years shows the Murray Darling Basin is much drier than what it was during the Millennium drought from 1997 to 2009.

Climatologists say the ongoing drought in the Murray Darling Basin, which spreads across many Australian states, is the most severe in 120 years. 

Dr. Jones of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) believes it’s even worse than the  Federation drought (1891-1903) and the World War II (1937-45) drought in terms of its severity.

‘The general picture across the Murray-Darling Basin, for droughts lasting two to three years, this is the most severe we’ve now seen in terms of the rainfall totals and probably also in terms of the general runoff into dams,’ he said in a presentation.         

‘Certainly this is about as bad as it has got in our records. It is pretty severe,’ he said.

Google Earth Engine’s Timelapse footage showed pictures of the Murray Darling Basin since 1984. 

It showed how the basin looked different every year in the past three and a half decades.

Google Earth Engine’s Timelapse footage showed the Murray Darling Basin is much drier than before (pictured the Murray Darling Basin in 1999)

The Murray Darling Basin in 2018

The Murray Darling Basin in 2018

Climatologists say large swathes of eastern and southern Australia require months of above average rainfall to break the current drought. 

The BoM, however, is not expecting a significant rainfall in the next three months. 

‘August to October daytime temperatures are likely to be warmer than average for much of Australia, with very high chances for the northern half of country,’ it said in a recent outlook.

Burrendong Dam in 1984

Burrendong Dam in 1984

Burrendong Dam in 2018

Burrendong Dam in 2018

Except for parts of Victoria, Southern NSW and Northern Queensland the current rain deficiencies have been building up in the rest of the country for the past two years.

‘In NSW the central and northern ranges have seen more than a 600mm deficit build up, and there are some spots closer to the coast that are 1200mm,’ Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino told the Land.

 ‘In Gippsland there is a severe rainfall deficit, as well as in central and eastern SA, and in southern Queensland.

‘Southern inland Queensland has severe rainfall deficiencies comparable to the highest on record over the past six months over a 24 month period.’

Major dams in the country are also operating below their holding capacity.

Satellite images show there is less water in NSW’s Burrendong Dam and it’s surrounding areas have lost their green pasture. 

Copeton Dam in NSW currently appears to have more water than what it was holding in 2009, but it is operating at less than 10 per cent of its holding capacity.

Copeton Dam in 2009

Copeton Dam in 2009

Copeton Dam in 2018

Copeton Dam in 2018



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