Tags: Global Warming | global warming | drought | california

3 Factors Other Than Global Warming Responsible for California's Drought

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 06:57 AM

Global warming has made California's drought worse, scientists say, but it isn't the only factor causing the state's rain shortage. The drought, which began in 2011, is the worst in at least 120 years, but there is still debate over whether the lack of rain was caused by global warming or not, The New York Times reports.

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Here are three factors that scientists believe are contributing to California's drought:

1. La Nina Weather Pattern

According to a report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2014 the drought is most likely caused by natural variations in the form a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean. This weather pattern was creating a warm patch of water in the western Pacific Ocean that was stopping storms from forming over California.

"A high pressure ridge off the West Coast (typical of historic droughts) prevailed for three winters, blocking important wet season storms, with ocean surface temperature patterns making such a ridge much more likely. Typically, the winter season in California provides the state with a majority of its annual snow and rainfall that replenish water supplies for communities and ecosystems," the NOAA report stated.

2. Random Variations

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The La Nina weather pattern cannot be blamed entirely for the drought, however. According to NOAA's Martin Hoerling, who helped write the report, La Nina can only be blamed for around one-third of the drought.

"The rest of the causes be from just random variation," he told The Guardian in an interview on the subject of drought and global warming in California.

3. Warmer Temperatures

There is no question it has been hotter than usual in California lately – in 2014 the state reported its hottest year since records have been taken – and this heat is also worsening the drought. Whether or not global warming contributes to this climate change is one of the most hotly debated topics today.

"Peer-reviewed studies are divided on whether the drought can be blamed on climate change. (Studies) published earlier this year point more directly to changes in pressure of the Pacific that blocked rain from coming into California," The Guardian reported.

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Global warming has made California's drought worse, scientists say, but it isn't the only factor causing the state's rain shortage. The drought, which began in 2011, is the worst in at least 120 years, but there is still debate.
global warming, drought, california
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2015-57-20
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 06:57 AM
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