Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Causes of California Drought Linked to Climate Change

Scientists agree that the immediate cause of the California drought is a particularly stubborn "blocking ridge" over the northeastern Pacific - popularly known as the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, or "Triple R" - that prevented winter storms from reaching California during the 2013 and 2014 rainy seasons. (Credit: Daniel Swain, Stanford School of Earth Sciences) Click to enlarge.
The extreme atmospheric conditions associated with California's crippling drought are far more likely to occur under today's global warming conditions than in the climate that existed before humans emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Associate Professor Noah Diffenbaugh and graduate student Daniel Swain explain the 'ridiculously resilient ridge' and its role in the California drought.

The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are "very likely" linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper.

In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

The research, published on Sept. 29 as a supplement to this month's issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is one of the most comprehensive studies to investigate the link between climate change and California's ongoing drought.

Causes of California Drought Linked to Climate Change

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