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Stanford scientists link California drought to global warming, NASA says 'not so fast'

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Is California's drought the result of global warming?

Stanford scientists say they have linked California's epic drought to global warming, although NASA scientists say they disagree. Regardless, the Golden State faces the most intense drought in recorded history with vast impacts on the state's residents.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
10/2/2014 (8 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: global warming, ridiculously resilient ridge, weather, California, drought

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - California remains gripped in a recorded-setting drought, one that has lasted longer than any previous drought in recorded history. For three years, California has struggled with rainfall well below average. This lack of rainfall has left reservoirs dry, and some communities without water.

Now, a study by Stanford Climate scientist, Noah Diffenbaugh purports to show that global warming is the culprit behind the phenomenon. According to the study, conditions which are causing the prolonged drought in California are much more likely when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Let us pray for rain in the Western USA.

The present situation has been blamed directly on an astounding dome of high pressure over the Eastern Pacific off the coast of California. Known to meteorologists as the "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" this dome of high pressure has remained in place for the past three years. It has diverted most of the storms that would keep California watered around the state, leaving residents dry.


While the feature has appeared before, it has never persisted for more than a year. The current manifestation is both strong and long-lasting, causing some to worry that it could become a permanent feature as the planet's climate changes.

Notably, this same weather feature is part of a larger phenomenon, where the jet stream weakens and dips over the Eastern U.S., causing record cold there throughout the year.

According to Diffenbaugh, this phenomenon is four times more likely to be as a result of global warming.

NASA scientists have dismissed the conclusions, arguing that it is very difficult to conclusively link local weather to a global change. NASA was unambiguous in its dismissal: ".there was no increased risk of drought in California during 2013 as a result of the long-term warning trend."

It should be noted that NASA scientists are not debating whether or not global warming is occurring, but they disagree that a relatively local phenomenon is the result of this global change.

For residents in California, the problems remain. Poor people who live and work in the state's productive San Joaquin Valley are suffering the most. Since many farmers are leaving their fields fallow, and simply selling their water to the highest bidders, there is much less work for migrant laborers. Crops have come early. Food prices have skyrocketed. The wells that serve these poor communities are often shallow and now no longer reach water reserves in the aquifer under the valley. At least a dozen communities are now subsisting on imported water-such as bottled water.

The state had hoped that an El Nino which normally delivers extra rain to the state, would cure the drought, but that system which developed strongly between May and July, fizzled out by August and now does not appear to be significant enough to make much difference for the state.

California is bound for another year of drought-a year which the state cannot hardly sustain.

Meanwhile, the city of Bakersfield, arguably the driest city in the state and home to over 500,000 people, has implemented no water restrictions whatsoever, setting itself up to become the first major metropolitan area to collapse should the drought persist for another year or more.

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