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GLOBAL WARMING MAKING CALIFORNIA DROUGHT WORSE

According to scientists, even if California’s drought hasn’t been triggered by climate change, global warming is certainly worsening the situation.

Californiais currently going through a drought so severe that the state had to command reductions in water consumption, and scientists all agree on the fact that global warming is worsening the whole situation.

As Princeton’s climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer has explained, “the drought is made of two components: not enough rain and too much heat”; even though it hasn’t been proved yet that the lack of rain is linked to climate change, the planetary warming has surely made it more likely that temperatures would rise in California, and higher temperatures cause more evaporation from reservoirs, rivers and soil.

Warmer temperatures are also reducing the snowpack, which normally works as a natural water store and gradually melts into reservoirs and canals over the spring and summer; this means that, until the start of the next rainy season, the only amount of water available will be the one stored in the reservoirs.

The current drought, which started in 2011, is the worst in 120 years of climate record-keeping in California and probably the worst in more than 1000 years, but scientists believe that the situation is likely to grow worse in the future; for instance, Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh has highlighted the alarming data that in the past years dry periods have more often overlapped with warm periods than in previous decades.

 

The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Friday, 3 April 2015

(Source: New York Times)