The California Drought

Remi O'Shaughnessy

The California Drought

Droughts historically have always effected California, and the extraordinary 2012-2014 drought has been no exception.

Causes of the California Drought

For the past three years (2011-2014), California has experienced one of its worst droughts in over a decade. At the beginning of the drought many thought that it was human caused. Recently scientist who have analyzed the drought say that it is a result of natural climate variability.

In the analysis made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reveled that the driving cause of the drought is changes of the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean. The persistent weather pattern over the past years has been warm, dry, and high pressure. This type of high-pressure can prevent clouds from forming and precipitation for falling.

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How did California Get Here? - Climate Change and the Drought

It is normal to think that when a drought occurs the climate must have become very hot and dry. But in the case of the California drought climate has not played a drastic role in the three year drought. But the climate within California has not changed, but the rain has stopped. According to Richard Seager, a climate model specialist at Columbia University, "climate change would not have been a main driver of the precipitation anomalies, which were the fundamental cause of the drought". Marty Hoerling, a meteorologist at NOAA's Earth System Research Lab (ESRL), said "The precipitation was the essence of this drought...farmers were praying for rain, not cooler temperatures."

Drought Response and Action Plan

Since the drought has lasted for so long the governor of California, Jerry Brown, declared a drought emergency. He asked all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20%. Many water suppliers are calling on customers to step up conservation efforts. Also, local agencies and communities are beginning to take action in the face of record-dry conditions this year.

The U.S Government has also got involved in helping to resolve the drought in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration have been working with the California government to come up with solutions to end the sever drought. The government has given millions of dollars to assist: California livestock producers, Emergency Water Assistant Grants, food banks, and Emergency Watershed Protection assistance. The government hopes that with these programs and grants will help conserve water and solve the California drought.

President Obama Responds to the California Drought

What will Happen Now?

Although the need to end this drought are vital, researchers has estimated that the drought may go one for years and that next year is expected to be another drought year for California. Also according to the researchers, drought conditions in 2015 and 2016 could end up costing California's Central Valley. But if the people continue to preserve water and take advantage of the government's intervention the California drought the people will be able to end the three year long drought.