A new report by some Stanford climatologists paints a dismal picture for California's future, suggesting that our current drought is absolutely tied to human-caused climate warming, and that the frequency of these droughts will likely only increase over time.
As the Mercury-News reports, the new study looks at data from the past and present and shows the clear warming trend, and predicts that there will be, on average, more warm years that are coupled with years of lower precipitation, leading to drought conditions like we have now.
In the past, droughts occurred about one quarter of the time, as one scientist explains, with temperature and precipitation unrelated. High temps and little rain occurred just as often together as low temps and lots of rain, but that is no longer the case. We're now seeing more and more warm years, so when the precipitation cycle turns dry, we're screwed from here on out.
The report is published in the March 2 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And looking at over 100 years of data, you see that "there were six droughts in past 20 years (1995-2014), compared to 14 droughts in the previous 98 years (1896-1994.)"
This unpleasant news arrives just as The State Water Project slightly boosted its 2015 allocations to two thirds of California's residents as well, as the Chronicle reports. They only gave water customers 5 percent of their usual allocation in 2014, and this year thanks to recent rains that will go up to 20 percent. Those customers include the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Alameda County Water District.
And in related, horrible news, fisheries experts say that California's drought, coupled with a possible El Nino forming as the Pacific Ocean warms this season, could cause major problems for the current generation of Sacramento River king salmon. The Chronicle reports that the 2015/16 season will be a defining one after several dicey years, and an ocean that is now 3 to 5 degrees warmer than usual for this time of year.