An increasing number of scientists have claimed that California’s drought is a result of climate change. A new study suggests that between 8 and 27 percent of the blame for the crippling drought lies in global warming, reports The LA Times.
New research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by scientists at the University of Idaho and Columbia University examines how warmer temperatures affect the plant life and soil in California.
By studying the past and current effects of global warming on California’s drought, scientists “can reliably predict how the future will play out,” according to A. Park Williams, lead author of the study and a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
By knowing how much global warming has contributed to the trend in California drought conditions over the past century, we can reliably predict how the future will play out.
The prediction is not a hopeful one. According to the study, the forecasted temperatures in California will continue to rise over the next few decades. Willaims said that by the 2060s, the state will settled into “more or less permanent drought conditions.”
The researchers looked at multiple sets of data on a month-by-month basis from 1901 to 2014, reports Phys Org. The team analyzed humidity, precipitation, temperature, wind, and other factors. While they found no long-term rainfall trend, they did find that average temperatures have been rising – about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit during the years in the study.
With the rising heat in the state, when rainfall declined in 2012 the moisture was sucked from the soil and plant life much more drastically than ever before, resulting in the drought.
Policymakers in California have enacted severe water restrictions over the last four years that affect the usage of water for citizens and farmers in the region.
In an attempt to stave off the evaporation of their water supply, ninety six million black plastic balls were dumped into the Los Angeles Reservoir.
The results of this study suggest there could be more restrictions in the future concerning water-usage. “The current drought cannot be passed off as a fluke event very unlikely to reoocur in the near future,” Willaims said.
The current drought cannot be passed off as a fluke event very unlikely to reoccur in the near future. It would be therefore extremely unwise to discontinue current efforts to make necessary changes to water-use policies.