Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sixth Year - The Rains Came

A dent in our drought, thanks to the Pineapple Express that developed suddenly in December, has appeared, and our gardens and hills are beginning to revive in the rain. The high-pressure ridge over California that prevented the storms from coming in has apparently dissipated.

"We've had a few weather systems come through," said Leslie Wanek, a meteorologist in Salt Lake City at the regional headquarters of the National Weather Service. "But it just keeps rebuilding there. It's kind of a mystery about why. Why is the global atmospheric pattern stuck like this?"

This resilient ridge has actually altered the geography in California, and has displayed some unusual warming in the local weather, based upon computer simulations.

Using these climate model simulations, we found that the human emission of greenhouse gases has very likely tripled the likelihood of experiencing large-scale atmospheric conditions similar to those observed in 2013.

This rainy season is just a small dent in this long-term drought, and we need a lot of rain to recover. Groundwater reserves throughout the state are drastically depleted and need years of good rain to recover.

The climate change that has heated up the atmosphere apparently contributed to the lessening precipitation all across the globe, it's not an isolated phenomenon. That, along with the increased human consumption and pollution of rivers and waterways, is a recipie for stressed landscapes and scarce water. While our public policies around the world have moved towards "resilient design" to cope with this new climate, it's imperative that we rapidly take the steps necessary to reduce emissions to zero before climate change becomes irreversible.