Melting polar ice linked to worsening drought
We’ll still have the occasional very wet year,” said lead scientist Ivana Cvijanovic, an atmospheric expert at Lawrence Livermore.
Bad news bears Over the next few decades, the Arctic Ocean is projected to become ice-free during the summer.
The team, which included Lawrence Livermore climate modeler Ben Santer, whose pioneering 2013 paper was the first to find patterns in the climate linked to human-caused global warming, compared two sets of simulations: one in the beginning of this century, and one looking ahead to the mid-century.
California’s rainfall will change through a two-step process, involving both the Arctic and the deep tropics, said Cvijanovic.
But when there’s a ridge, the wet and wintry Pacific storms instead slide north.
Previous research by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh also concluded that human-caused climate change is increasing drought risk in California — boosting the odds that our recent crisis will become a fixture of the future.
“This is a really important new piece of the puzzle of how climate change can influence precipitation and drought in California,” said Diffenbaugh.
“This new paper identifies the critical role of loss of Arctic sea ice.” Daniel Swain of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, who coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 on his California Weather Blog, called the study’s link between Arctic sea ice loss and California drought “provocative, but compelling.” “While the jury’s still out regarding the specific details of where, when, and exactly how this connection may play out, it has become increasingly hard to escape the conclusion that some degree of influence is likely,” he said.
“It is not only a problem for remote Arctic communities, but could affect millions of people worldwide,” she said.
“Arctic sea ice loss could affect us, right here in California.”