Saturday, April 2, 2016

California Weather Getting More Extreme

A team of researchers led by Stanford University scientist Noah Diffenbaugh examined the weather patterns associated with California droughts. Their results were published in the journal Science Advances. While the issue of droughts got the headline, the part I found most interesting was their statement that extreme weather is becoming more normal in California. A quote from a news release from the National Science Foundation explains this.
Imagine looking at a 10-year period and finding that two of the years are wet, two are dry, and the rest experienced precipitation close to the long-term average. Now imagine another decade with three very dry years, three very wet years, and only four years with near-average precipitation.

"What seems to be happening is that we're having fewer 'average' years, and instead we're seeing more extremes on both sides," Swain said. "This means that California is starting to experience more warm/dry periods, punctuated by wet conditions."

We see, once again, the weather system is a heat engine. Pump more energy into it and the engine will get revved up. We see this pattern at an increasing rate. How long will it be before everyone is subjected to this same pattern of increasing severe weather?

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