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California Droughts

by Isobel Wright, MSS Intern
Tamalpais High School

Having suffered three consecutive years with abnormally low rainfall averages, California faces its most severe drought in decades. In 2013, we received less rain than any year since California became a state in 1850. In fact, many Bay Area scientists have proven from tree-ring data, that on the current path, the upcoming rainfall season will be the driest since 1580. The effects of low water levels have left communities fighting over emergency water supplies, fires raging across the state, and whole species and industries are subsequently threatened.



Many reservoirs are only 30 percent full (like Folsom Lake, shown above). Retrieved from Huffington Post.



But we have had little rainfall before, so what makes this drought different? What makes this drought particularly cruel is the record-keeping heat experienced in the first half of 2014. This heat exacerbated an already devastating drought. The National Climatic Data Center released information revealing that California had its warmest January-June season since the recording began in 1895, with the temperature being 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

This graph shows the extremely low rain fall levels in 2014. Retrieved from Independent.com. 
It is thought that this intense heat is being caused by human created global warming and a persistent high pressure ridge above the West and the eastern Pacific Ocean. This ridge has prevented storms from reaching this region.

Information sources:

http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_24993601/california-drought-past-dry-periods-have-lasted-more
http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/09/02/california-megadrought/14446195/
http://ca.gov/drought/

Join us Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 to learn more at "Pain for Cows and Pumpkins: Drought Impacts on Central Valley Agricultural Water Supply" with Douglas Charlton PhD of Charlton International.  7:30 - 8:30 pm Terra Linda High School, San Rafael, Room 207. RSVP on Facebook here.


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