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Photos: Australia’s parched land looks otherworldly

Reuters/David Gray
Alien worlds.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Australia is the second-driest continent on the planet, so droughts are not unusual. This year’s could be the worst in living memory. In some parts of the country, the current winter drought follows the second-warmest summer and one of the driest and warmest autumns. And there appears to be no end in sight, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Many weather events contribute to drought years: weak monsoon, long spells of high pressure, and natural variations of El Niño. Human-induced climate change, which raises global average temperatures, continues to fuel extreme weather events.

A 2017 study shows that, in some parts of Australia, the intensity of 21st-century droughts has been unlike anything seen in more than 400 years. It’s likely to get worse in coming decades, with human-induced climate change unabated.

Reuters sent photographer David Gray to document the struggles of living through one of the worst droughts in Australia. Quartz has selected some of Gray’s best shots—many of which he took using a drone.

Reuters/David Gray
A lone tree stands near a water trough in a drought-effected paddock on Jimmie and May McKeown’s property on the outskirts of Walgett, in New South Wales, July 20, 2018.
Reuters/David Gray
Farmer Ash Whitney stands on the back of his truck as he throws out hay to his cattle in on his property located west of Gunnedah in New South Wales, June 3, 2018: “I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while.”
Reuters/David Gray
A road can be seen next to tracks leading to a water tank on farmer Ash Whitney’s property located west of Gunnedah, in New South Wales, June 3, 2018.
Reuters/David Gray
Tracks from farmer Jimmie McKeown’s truck trace lines on the outskirts of Walgett, July 19, 2018.
Reuters/David Gray
Cattle kick up dust at sunset on farmer Tom Wollaston’s property, west of tTamworth in north-western New South Wales, June 1, 2018.
Reuters/David Gray
McKeown reacts as she drives her truck to feed her remaining cattle.

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