All of California is in drought and climate change may be to blame

Intro

39% of the United States, including all of California, is now experiencing drought according to a new analysis from the National Climatic Data Center. In California, where water has been scarce for months, moderate to exceptional drought continues to blanket the state, with the Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley particularly hard hit. This week’s data marks the first time in the 15-year history of the US Drought Monitor that the entire state of California has been under official drought conditions.

As California farmers and families prepare for water shortages, new research from Utah State University has linked the drought—along with this year’s unusually cold winter in the Northeast—to anthropogenic climate change. The study blames an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure, known as a “dipole,” for recent extreme weather patterns. It also goes one step further in linking buildup of heat trapping gases to this unusual dipole.

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RT @LaTimes This map says it all: Drought covers 100% of California for the first time in 15 years: http://lati.ms/wa8SM  pic.twitter.com/fN5cmpKZgR

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Key Points

  • For the first time in 15 years, the entire state of California is experiencing drought, and the rest of the US isn’t much better. New data from the national drought monitor found that nearly 39% of the country was in drought. That figure rose by 1% from the previous week.
  • Climate change is linked to the current extreme weather events in the US. A study out of Utah State University asserts a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought and the polar vortex blamed for a harsh winter of 2014.
  • Massive drought can have massive implications for the American and global economy. California is the twelfth biggest economy in the world and the largest agricultural state in the nation. Nearly half of all U.S.-produced fruits, vegetables and nuts come from California. A continuation of the current drought crisis in California and the rest of the US will reverberate in food price spikes, food shortages and increased need for assistance to rural communities.

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