Can You Actually Hear The California Drought?

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Despite recent rain in Southern California, the catastrophic drought remains unchanged. According to the drought monitor, 92 percent of California is in severe drought, 71 percent is extreme, and 46 percent is in exceptional drought. This abnormal drought has severe consequences on the health of California residents, as well as some of its most beloved natural features, like the Giant Sequoias. These sequoias are among the oldest and largest living things on earth, but even they cannot stand up against this dry time. The Giant Sequoias reach up to 300 feet tall and some are more than 3,000 years old. Unfortunately, a single tree requires up to 800 gallons of water a day for optimal health.

Aside from these visible effects of the drought, the actual sound of California is greatly changing too. The drought has brought an eerie silence that is remarkably different than what the California people are used to. In places like Northern California wine country and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park where one could sit outside and listen to freshwater streams and cascades off in the distance, now one only hears silence. If you don’t look deep enough, it can be difficult to see drastic changes to the landscape in more forested areas of California, which is why it is so important to take some time to be still, close your eyes, and listen to the complete stillness. The chilling silence reflects the absence of any life source. With water being the biggest component of life, this audio evidence directly points to the drought.

Bernie Krause’s Wild Sanctuary is home to more than 5,000 hours of natural soundscapes that have been recorded for more than four decades. With Northern California being a special sanctuary for Krause, he was compelled to record this shocking lack of water in his recordings. Listen below for a taste of what Sugarloaf sounds like in the state of the drought.

Kate Wilke is the content manager at 301brands, and she's the editor of, and the lifestyle editor at When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on Instagram — @kateewilke

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