Peter Sinclair has tackled this difficult topic with an excellent video and informative blog post. The blog post is here, and I’ve pasted the video below.

This is a complicated issue. The water problem in California is obviously made worse by increased demands from population growth and expansion of agriculture. Under “normal” (natural) conditions, California and the American Southwest is fairly dry and can undergo extra dry periods. But climate change seems to be playing a role here as well. It appears that recent lack of rain in the region is the result of changes in atmospheric circulation that can be linked to anthropogenic global warming. Warm air also increases evaporation and decreases snow pack. When rain falls it tends more often to be in the form of heavy downpours, and thus, more runoff (not to mention landslides).

Peter also talks about Jacob Sewall’s model, ten years ago, that predicted the current situation as an outcome of reduced ice cover in the Arctic. Over at Significant Figures, Peter Gleick also talks about the California drought: Clarifying the Discussion about California Drought and Climate Change.

Photo Credit: Fikret Onal via Compfight cc


Other posts of interest:

Also of interest: In Search of Sungudogo: A novel of adventure and mystery, which is also an alternative history of the Skeptics Movement.


  1. […] 2014/03/13: GLaden: What is causing the California drought? […]

  2. #2 Marvin Hill
    March 18, 2014

    EVER PEER into peer review EPA bull chips such as the OWLS and other endangered LAND GRABS; fer instance SNAIL Darter or the DIVERSION of Fresh water into the PACIFIC to save the SALMON. SCIENTIFIC as TREE RINGS selectively taken in return for BILLIONS OF FEDERAL MONIES ,,,PATHETIC Left WING LUNATIC ya are

  3. #3 Jennifer
    May 6, 2014

    Despite claims of “left wing stupidity” satellite images show that yes, climate change has a role as the author states. See here: