Human released greenhouse gas pollution changes the climatic system through a variety of mechanisms. Trade winds and jet streams change their patterns of movement, and the distribution of moisture in the air changes, with precipitation either lacking more than usual or being more abundant than usual. The patterns of movement of major air masses and the increased bifurcation of air masses into more wet than usual and more dry than usual can result in long periods where region experiences excess precipitation or a lack of precipitation. When the latter happens, there can be a drought.

Increasingly, the California drought is being seen as an effect of climate change. Air masses that should have contributed precipitation in the form of mountain snow, which in turn feed the western ground water system, have been kept away. Increased temperature has increased evaporation. Other factors related to climate change have contributed. The result is an historic drought over California that shows at present no sign of stopping any time soon. There was hope that last winter there would be additional precipitation, and there was some, but not enough.

A paper just out in Geophysical Research Letters uses modeling and historic data to confirm that the current California drought is very likely an effect of climate change. The paper is “Temperature Impacts on the Water Year 2014 Drought in California“, by Shraddhanand Shukla, Mohammad Safeeq, Amir Aghkouchak, Kaiyu Guan, and Chris Funk. Here is the abstract, which is pretty self explanatory and understandable:

California is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record. Here we use a hydrological model and risk assessment framework to understand the influence of temperature on the water year (WY) 2014 drought in California and examine the probability that this drought would have been less severe if temperatures resembled the historical climatology. Our results indicate that temperature played an important role in exacerbating the WY 2014 drought severity. We found that if WY 2014 temperatures resembled the 1916-2012 climatology, there would have been at least an 86% chance that winter snow water equivalent and spring- summer soil moisture and runoff deficits would have been less severe than the observed conditions. We also report that the temperature forecast skill in California for the important seasons of winter and spring is negligible, beyond a lead-time of one month, which we postulate might hinder skillful drought prediction in California.

The caption for the graphic above is: “Percentiles of potential evapotranspiration (ETo) during WY 2014 with respect to 1979 to 2012 climatology.”

I find the ancillary finding of the lack of skill of temperature forecasts in California. One would expect low skill in forecast models that are designed under a given climatology, when that climatology shifts as it seems to have done.

Comments

  1. #1 Karl
    May 22, 2015

    “… at least an 86% chance …”

    Does this mean 6/7 in favour of climate change and 1/7 against it?

  2. #2 Brainstorms
    May 22, 2015

    Karl, it’s not “1/7 against climate change”, it’s 1/7 chance that our water supply wouldn’t be as devastatingly curtailed as it is now, due to the chance of having more snow melt — which California depends on for most of its water supply.

    There’s nothing in there that implies a chance that climate change isn’t happening. That debate is over. It’s here and it’s causing damage, today, not “in the future” and it’s not “a chance of it happening”. It’s been happening.

  3. #3 Dave
    colorado
    May 23, 2015

    you know the globe has been warming for 20,000 years or so, was it humans that turned North Africa into a desert from a land of plenty? How about the younger dryas period when we were cooling for a thousand years or so, was it humans that caused us to warm up again? If you look to the solutions that are proposed, the agenda is clear!

  4. […] Human released greenhouse gas pollution changes the climatic system through a variety of mechanisms. Trade winds and jet streams change their patterns of movement, and the distribution of moisture in the air changes, with precipitation either lacking more than usual or being more abundant than usual. The patterns of movement of major air masses and…  […]

  5. #5 dhogaza
    May 23, 2015

    My reading’s a little different, based on the abstract:

    “…examine the probability that this drought would have been less severe if temperatures resembled the historical climatology”

    In other words, they’re not claiming that climate change *caused* the drought, as you say. They’re saying that climate change has made it worse, a slightly weaker but still very significant statement.

    I think accurate summarizing is important … your headline would be better if it said “California Drought Worsened By Climate Change”. Entirely accurate and no less scary regarding long-term consequences …

  6. #6 Marco
    May 23, 2015

    Dave, we’ve had bush fires for millions of years. Applying your arguments means that no bush fires are caused by humans, ever, because this has happened before without human impact.

    The fact you believe thousands and thousands and thousands of scientists, many of those working on this in the last half a century, have come to the conclusion that anthropogenic contributions to climate change is large, tells me you are a conspiracy nutter. What else do you believe? 9/11 is an inside job? Obama is a Kenyan? The CIA created Al Qaeda and/or ISIS?

  7. #7 Brainstorms
    May 23, 2015

    Gotta love Dave’s simple logic. Easily grasped, easily applied! Even a 4-year-old could figure it out…

    …and by the time they’re maybe 9 or 10 they realize how stupid it is to think that way.

    If you look at Dave’s propositions, his agenda is clear!

  8. #8 Marco
    May 23, 2015

    I see I erased a bit too much in rewriting my comment. It should say:
    “The fact you believe thousands and thousands and thousands of scientists, many of those working on this in the last half a century, have come to the conclusion that anthropogenic contributions to climate change is large *because they have an agenda*, tells me you are a conspiracy nutter.”

  9. #9 dreamer
    May 24, 2015

    Why aren’t we calling it Global Warming? “Climate Change” was an euphemism to appease Republicans.

  10. #10 Brainstorms
    May 24, 2015

    “Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating” (HIRGO) is what Astrostevo prefers…

  11. #11 climatehawk1
    May 24, 2015

    For readers’ convenience and further edification, here’s a little background on the ongoing discussion about the California drought: http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2014/03/12/new-york-times-op-ed-asks-wrong-questions-on-climate-change-and-california-drought/

  12. #12 Dave
    Colorado
    May 25, 2015

    I guess I hit a nerve, name calling, it’s all you got!
    Funny

  13. #13 Marco
    May 25, 2015

    Dave’s last comment is quite ironic, considering he started by claiming thousands and thousands of scientists have a specific agenda in describing the role humans have on recent climate change and the likely impacts that are to follow.

  14. #14 Dave
    Colorado
    May 25, 2015

    Look over there!

  15. #15 Marco
    May 25, 2015

    Maybe we should, since there is nothing of any interest in your direction, unless you are studying conspiracy nutters.

  16. […] get out of, so expect plenty of storms, desertification and rising seas in the future. This is already well underway (oops that’s a whole lotta articles right there, it’s like I can’t […]

  17. #17 Katie
    California
    August 8, 2015

    The Drought is engineered to crash our food supply
    http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/major-northern-california-event-will-expose-global-climate-engineering/
    scientific research proves it
    google weather patents and note the the owners of those patents are the main private military contractors for the DOD
    http://www.weathermodification.com/projects.php

    Scientific evidence for global warming is made by scientists that are told to do studies on an environment that being artificially made. That in not intelligence. That is not saying we should not take care of our environment but people need to sort through the lies our government is telling to understand the larger picture.

  18. #18 Brainstorms
    August 8, 2015

    People need to sort through the lies the voices in our head are telling to understand the larger picture.

    If the government is behind droughts and crashing of food supplies, that kills off the population and throws it into disarray and insurrection. This threatens the government with its own downfall. That’s self-contradictory. The government either wants to have control or it wants to lose control. Katie, which is it?

    The wealthy class in this country need to eat. They depend on a food supply either to feed themselves directly, or to feed the organizations of people who produce the food they do eat. The rich have power (economic & political), so they can control whoever control the food supply — or, in your terms, control the drought; i.e., they would own these weather patents.

    If those in control are trying to crash the food supply they depend on, that’s self-contradictory. The wealthy either wants to eat or it wants to starve. Katie, which is it?

  19. #19 Katie
    August 8, 2015

    Plenty of governments in history have fallen because of someone’s insane greed towards power and money. So your logical answer is not logical at all. Unfortunately, if you did in depth research on the subject you would have to flat out lie to make your point. It is no secret that there is an unhealthy level of corporate influence in the decision making branches of our government. Prove me wrong. If they are not spraying the sky during the raining season why are the largest weather patent holders also the same corporations receiving the most amounts of funds as private contractors of the DOD? Or are you not allowed to address that specific fact?

  20. #20 Brainstorms
    August 8, 2015

    “Plenty of governments in history have fallen because of someone’s insane greed towards power and money.”

    In today’s America, that would be the cabal running the Republican Party.

    “So your logical answer is not logical at all.”

    Of course not, because it’s not a logical answer; it’s only making a point.

    “Unfortunately, if you did in depth research on the subject you would have to flat out lie to make your point.”

    One does not need to do ‘research’ in order to make point. (Nor to lie, but satire & parody can go a long way; ask Jon Stewart about that.) One may need to do research in order to make a credible claim of fact, such as the many in your first comment.

    “It is no secret that there is an unhealthy level of corporate influence in the decision making branches of our government. Prove me wrong.”

    It would seem we are in agreement on that point. I would change “unhealthy” to “damaging”, though.

    “If they are not spraying the sky during the raining season why are the largest weather patent holders also the same corporations receiving the most amounts of funds as private contractors of the DOD?”

    Okay, I give up: Why?

    “Or are you not allowed to address that specific fact?”

    Fact? Have we established this as a fact? But tell us, what are you implying by all this? Or are you not allowed to address that?

  21. #21 Mal Adapted
    August 8, 2015

    Katie:

    The Drought is engineered to crash our food supply
    http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/major-northern-california-event-will-expose-global-climate-engineering/
    scientific research proves it

    Scientific evidence for global warming is made by scientists that are told to do studies on an environment that being artificially made.

    we get that you don’t trust the government or the scientists who have failed to find evidence that “the Drought is engineered”. So why do you trust the “scientific research” presented at geoengineeringwatch.org? For that matter, why do you trust any information you find by googling?

  22. #22 Katie
    August 8, 2015

    I asked you to prove this statement wrong with factual information.
    “The largest weather patent holders also the same corporations receiving the most amounts of funds as private contractors of the Department of Defense? ”
    I ask you your opinion of why you think that is. If you just wanna blog and don’t wanna research it, it’s cool.
    I would also like to ask you what technology level society is in regards to weather modification?
    If you don’t have any well thought out answers with proof on the specific questions I ask, then maybe you are a troll. Isn’t that what they call people that are hired to spread disinformation?

  23. #23 Marco
    August 9, 2015

    Katie, you ask us to prove you are wrong on your claim that
    “The largest weather patent holders also the same corporations receiving the most amounts of funds as private contractors of the Department of Defense”.

    Obviously, this is turning the world upside down. You will have to show you are *right*.

    This means you will have to show these supposed “weather patents”, that the companies holding those patents are the largest “weather patent holders”, and then that these companies receive the largest funds from the DoD.

    Something tells me you already will fail at step 2.

  24. #24 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    Marco,
    I am not going to waste my time with people that want to argue over an article when they have no base knowledge on the subject. Clearly my conversation was with someone that only wants to argue any fact that I bring forth, it will be disputed without thought. I was giving him an outlet to change the tone of the conversation to an positive, educated one. He has no base scientific knowledge on the actual subject I gave him some excellent clear hints as where to start gaining knowledge to have an intelligent conversation. If he knew anything about the subject he could have just easily responded to the questions I asked in conversation. I wanted to share information not put anyone down or make them feel stupid.

    As your comment reflects you also have no scientific knowledge of weather modification activities in the US or around the world and are not qualified to speak on the subject either. Or how US tax dollars are being used regarding these activities.

    I can give you some links on both subjects in the naive hope that you just really don’t know better. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and learn something new once in a while.

    http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/links-to-geoengineering-patents/

    http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/documents-2/

  25. #25 Mal Adapted
    August 9, 2015

    Out of perhaps an excess of fairness to Katie, I took a look at geoengineeringwatch.com. There may be some factual information there, but there’s a lot about chemtrails and HAARP too. The post at the top of the HAARP page begins thus:

    Climate engineering is a completely runaway juggernaut of total insanity. The planet’s climate system is unraveling by the day as the geoengineers try frantically to control it with ever more desperate and destructive measures (which were a primary cause of the climate disintegration in the first place).

    AGW is apparently accepted, but otherwise it’s classic crank bait. That Katie takes such claims as proven, and insists that we prove her wrong, places her in the company of obdurate anti-vaxxers and creationists. It’s unlikely she can be helped to become a genuine sceptic.

    Having said that, here’s a recent newspaper item about a small group of retired scientists and engineers, volunteers all, working on a shoestring project to enhance the reflectivity of clouds:

    http://www.abqjournal.com/618181/news/scientists-ready-to-test-cloud-theory.html

    There may be more to this than what’s in the newspaper account, but one wouldn’t expect to find anything about it in a newspaper account if it’s part of a vast geo-engineering conspiracy.

    Of course, that doesn’t prove there isn’t a vast geo-engineering conspiracy 8^D!

  26. #26 Brainstorms
    August 9, 2015

    Katie, you storm in here and throw out a number of fanciful claims and accusations in an alarming tone, then expect –no, demand– that people reading this blog & commentary to not only accept your claims & their implications, but that they should perform their own “in depth research on the subject”, especially before they respond to you.

    Yet you fail to establish why anyone should take up your cause. When challenged on this, rather than trying to make a persuasive case for what you think you’ve uncovered, you continue propounding conspiracy theories involving greedy corporations, self-destructive government, nefarious control of global weather, and clueless scientists who are being used as pawns.

    When challenged on this, you simply reply, “Prove me wrong.” Then you demand that *we* start providing *you* with “factual information” — again without establishing any reason why we should be so motivated. And when pressed on that, you try to assuage us with, “I ask you your opinion…” But even before giving anyone a chance to reply to that, you start with the “you’re a troll” accusations.

    Troll? Why? Because someone won’t take up your personal cause, “do in depth research”, provide you with “factual information”, mollify you with their “opinions” on this subject (whatever exactly that may be), and joyfully respond with “well thought out answers with proof”?

    And to top things off, when no one will take your bait on this, they’re somehow now being “hired to spread disinformation” and have “no base scientific knowledge on the actual subject”.

    Marco also tries to help put you back on the rails, to which you respond, “I am not going to waste my time with people that want to argue over an article when they have no base knowledge on the subject.” You seem to be the only one who hasn’t noticed that no one is arguing over your article… We’re all still wondering why we should be motivated to care in the first place, given that none of your presuppositions have been established.

    You say, “my conversation was with someone that only wants to argue any fact that I bring forth”, but fail to grasp that it’s not “facts” that are being argued: People are trying to point out to you that it’s the process of how to properly engage people in such a conversation that’s the subject.

    We *are* trying to change the tone of this to something positive; it was set in a negative way from your first comment. Your latest comment isn’t helping. (I hope spelling this all out, now, will, however.) No one is trying to make you feel stupid, they’re trying to get you to realize that your tone and approach are at best bizarre and at worst trollish.

    Personally, I don’t think you’re a troll, but I think you’re a bit too close to the trees to see the forest, and too emotionally engaged with your pet subject to realize that the rest of the world doesn’t feel the degree of concern or even see how to connect all the dots on these claims and their supposed relevance.

    Be persuasive; don’t try to beat people over the head to take up your causes. It’s not a successful strategy, most especially when you’re trying to engage a bunch of scientists and science types.

  27. #27 Marco
    August 9, 2015

    Katie, my comfort zone is the zone where facts are facts and people making claims about facts provide the evidence. Your link to supposed “geoengineering” patents, which is not the same as “weather” patents, contains several patents that are not even geoengineering patents, unless one has a very liberal definition of “geoengineering”. For example, in the five most recent patents there is (which I had to google) that discusses a system to move around unmanned aircraft on the ground.

    In the five most recent patents on the list I also found two privately owned patents, one owned by the DoE (invented by a university group), and one owned by Exelis. Now, Exelis has contracts with the DoD, providing a range of services, but I cannot find any evidence they get *funding* for their development. But even then, Exelis is only nr 18 on the list of companies receiving funding from DoD in 2014.

    The evidence contradicts your claim, making your “fact” in reality a lie. Perhaps it is time you get out of your own comfort zone and stop believing the government is out to get you.

  28. #28 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    Why can’t you answer a basic question in regards to current technology in weather modification?
    Is it because you don’t want to give the wrong answer and look bad?
    Or is it because you would have to admit that countries have full capacity of weather engineering and are in fact using the processes right now to create artificial global warming.

    The link I posted above gives you a long list of links weather modification providers, did you miss that one? It also has links to show weather is used to make money on the stock market through weather Derivatives. The amount of taxpayer dollars spent on weather research and climate modeling is staggering and not new. The idea in the article that you presented from this site is also not new. The government has spent trillions of tax dollars on climate research and many research papers tend to fall into a black hole never to be found. Searching a good scientific research paper database is just like searching Google; it can provide good information but you really have to dig hard. Taxpayer dollars are being spent to create an artificial global warming and then more tax dollars are going to be spent to clean up. Being a good steward of the earth is not letting someone make a mess in the first place with your money. Your pocketbook is going to be raped in the name global warming, if you don’t care ok. I am caring person, and also know that many people will lose their quality of life and their lives under this scheme. They will impress slow people with technological terms like albedo modification, atmospheric intervention, solar radiation management, hygroscopic flares, Hygroscopic seeding with salt micropowders and a slew of other terms. I am a doer not a blogger so just please don’t go around whining about stuff on political blogs, but try to fix it. Effective or not those old men in the article are passionate about doing something positive, you should be too.

  29. #29 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    Top 100 Contractors of the U.S. federal government 2013
    1. Lockhead Martin Corporation 44 billion areospace
    2. The Boeing Company 21 billion areospace
    3. Raytheon Company 14 billion areospace
    4. General Dynamics Corporation 13 billion areospace
    5. Northrop Grumman Corporation 10 billion areospace
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_100_Contractors_of_the_U.S._federal_government
    That is a good tool to start if you were genuinely interested in the subject.
    I am not your babysitter; either you hunger for knowledge or strive to be closed minded.

  30. #30 Marco
    August 9, 2015

    “are in fact using the processes right now to create artificial global warming”

    Once again I was waiting for the evidence for that “fact”, and once again I was disappointed to see Katie not provide any such evidence.

    Yes, we have the capability to alter *weather* patterns. We are doing so as a rather uncontrollable side-product of our own economic activity, which is still primarily based on energy from fossil fuels. The associated release of GHGs is what is causing global warming, not a deliberate attempt of governments to use taxpayer money to cause global warming. If it were, it would be first example in history that all governments of the world agree to do something, and maintain this vast conspiracy for many decades across continuously changing people in charge.

    But let’s assume for a moment that this is all true. What is the benefit for the people in the government? They are taxpayers themselves, and in most countries they are only in charge for a relatively short period of their life. The whole conspiracy is of little to no benefit to them, and may even be detrimental!

  31. #31 Marco
    August 9, 2015

    I have no problem finding the top 100 contractors of the DoD. You have failed to provide any evidence that these companies are the same companies that hold most of the “weather patents”. The best you could do was refer to a list of supposed “geoengineering patents” (of which most are no longer valid anyway), and where the newest Lockheed Martin-owned patent (the nr 1 DoD *contractor*, which is not the same as being *funded*) was a patent on a device to move around unmanned aircraft on the ground. Geoengineering? Clearly no. Weather patent? Even more clearly a no.

  32. #32 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    Why can’t you answer a basic question in regards to current technology in weather modification and where it is used?

  33. #33 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    All you have is to say you don’t have to? Really?

  34. #34 Mal Adapted
    August 9, 2015

    Katie:

    All you have is to say you don’t have to? Really?

    If we don’t consider your claim to be sufficiently supported by the evidence, then yes.

    You think the evidence presented at geoengineeringwatch.org for the existence of an ongoing secret, nefarious program to modify global climate, being conducted by shadowy forces, is strong enough that we are obligated to accept it if we can’t prove it doesn’t exist. Your interlocutors here, however, see many features common to all conspiracy theories on display at that site, and don’t consider the available evidence strong enough to support the conspiracy claim.

    The Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman said “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first rule is you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool”. If you’re relying on the information at geoengineeringwatch.org, then you aren’t trying hard enough not to fool yourself. It’s not up to us to convince you of that, it’s up to you to convince us you aren’t.

  35. #35 Mal Adapted
    August 9, 2015

    Over-editing 8^}. “it’s up to you to convince us you aren’t” should be “it’s up to you to convince us you are” (trying hard enough not to fool yourself, that is).

  36. #36 Katie
    August 9, 2015

    I have given you plenty of proof you are just mental and don’t want to listen or learn anything new. Instead, you want to play games and avoid the subject.

  37. #37 Marco
    August 10, 2015

    Links are not proof, especially when those links actually contradict the things you claim they prove.

  38. #38 Katie
    United States
    August 14, 2015

    None of the information contradicts, the only thing that is contradictory you! Here are some more links:

    There is an open comment period to EPA regarding the question whether or not airplane emissions effect air quality and if they should be regulated. Currently there is no regulation. Including no regulation on weather modification activities. From the EPA website:

    “Greenhouse Gas Determinations: Emissions from Aircraft Cause or Contribute to Air Pollution that May Reasonably Be Anticipated to Endanger Public Health and Welfare”

    http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0828-0001

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?327586-1/epa-hearing-commercial-aircraft-emissions

    Over half (closer to 3/4) of all EPA superfund sites have been created with US tax dollars by the US government and their private contractors. US tax dollars are then used to clean up the mess by hiring private US contractors to do it. Now there is an investigation into the abuse if the money running through sieve. The investigation will be cut short and never reach it’s full potential. Taxpayer dollars are being used to modify the weather in a negative way, an enormous amount of tax money is being spent on scientists to study it and our tax dollars will be used again in the sieve to clean it up in the name of global warming.

  39. #39 Marco
    August 15, 2015

    Katie, you are all over the place. You made a claim that those companies who have patents on “weather” are also those who get the largest funding from the DoD. Your links then contradicted this claim. Your response to that? Make a new claim!

    Well, you will just have to accept that economic activity, the stuff that allows you to live your life the way you want (I imagine you have a car, maybe even more than one, several tvs, a house perhaps with central heating, doing groceries in supermarkets with plastic around the food, etc. etc.), leads to the generation of waste. Is that caused by “government”? Or is it in the end *your own fault*? It’s the latter, Katie. Your complaints about the government causing waste that then needs to be cleaned is nothing but a complaint about your own behaviour.