Tags: california | drought | climate | change

California Drought and Climate Change Likely Linked, New Study Concludes

Image: California Drought and Climate Change Likely Linked, New Study Concludes
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Mar 2015 01:30 PM

California has experienced more frequent droughts in the past two decades than at any time in its history, and human emissions have been implicated as part of the state's continued climate change, according to a study conducted by Stanford University scientists this month.

The findings of the new research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the effect carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are having on California in the past 120 years and the state's future drought risk, according to a Stanford release.

Researchers said they have found that California may be entering a period where low precipitation and high temperatures similar to the past two years will be the new normal for the foreseeable future.

"Of course low precipitation is a prerequisite for drought, but less rain and snowfall alone don't ensure a drought will happen," said Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh, who led the research examining the role temperature has played in California droughts over the past century.

"It really matters if the lack of precipitation happens during a warm or cool year," he continued. "We've seen the effects of record heat on snow and soil moisture this year in California, and we know from this new research that climate change is increasing the probability of those warm and dry conditions occurring together."

Scientist Martin Hoerling, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told USA Today, though, that he was not sold on the long-term prospects of California's continued drought problem, and questioned the study's methodology and findings.

"The warming trend can only account for a small fraction of the actual warmth in California the past two winters," added Columbia University scientist Richard Seager, USA Today noted.

Hoerling and Seager co-authored an NOAA report in December that stressed that natural weather patterns and not man-made global warming were the primary cause of California's drought.

Diffenbaugh insisted in the Stanford release that human emissions are "clearly implicated in California's statewide warming."

"We found that essentially all years are likely to be warm — or extremely warm — in California by the middle of the 21st century," Daniel Swain, the Stanford study coauthor, said in the university release. "This means that both drought frequency — and the potential intensity of those droughts which do occur — will likely increase as temperatures continue to rise."

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California has experienced more frequent droughts in the past two decades than at any time in its history, and human emissions have been implicated as part of the state's continued climate change, according to a study conducted by Stanford University scientists this month.
california, drought, climate, change
388
2015-30-03
Tuesday, 03 Mar 2015 01:30 PM
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