New climate reality in California

Hollywood has to deal with the drought – even if Albert Hammond’s song It Never Rains in Southern California won’t be true any longer. Climatologists have confirmed that the state can expect a rainy winter. But even if that happens, Californians will still face drought when there comes too much water too fast, This was the case in the late 1990s, when El Niño delivered more rainfall than aquifers could absorb and reservoirs could store.



“California is facing a new climate reality, in which extreme drought is more likely.The state’s water rights, infrastructure and management were designed for an old climate, one that no longer exists”, state Noah S. Diffenbaugh, associate professor of earth system science at Stanford, and Christopher B. Field, director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, in the New York Times.


“Our research has shown that global warming has doubled the odds of the warm, dry conditions that are intensifying and prolonging this drought, which now holds records not only for lowest precipitation and highest temperature, but also for the lowest spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in at least 500 years.”


In in the last decade, there were more than 80 “billion-dollar” climate and weather disasters in the United States which are not prepared for the current climate. “From these disasters, we can take away two lessons: Increasing resilience now can build protection for the future, and stressed systems are more prone to disasters”, sum up the scientists. “We have opportunities to rethink the fundamental structure of water rights and markets, re-engineer water storage to compensate for decreasing snowpack, update regulations and infrastructure to embrace water reuse and recycling, and regulate end-user pricing to encourage conservation. In short, we benefit from incorporating climate-related risks in planning for California’s future.”

(Photo: Courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)



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