Drought in California
Despite the recent remarkable extreme nature of climate, drought is nothing new in California. From records, the driest winter in the region was experienced between 1976 and 1977. Though, there was an extended dry period in the 1920s and the 1930s and it included California’s second driest winter of the 1923 and 1924 (California water, nd P. 40). The driest 3-year winter was recorded in 1974 to 1977 with the driest year being 1975-1976. The 1929 to 1934 was a six-year drought characterized by the dry hydrology. Other dry spells leading to drought were observed in 1987 to 1992 (Cooly, 2015 P.1-3). Extended wet periods have also been experienced in the 90s and this was preceded by declining precipitation leading to the 2007 to 2009 dry periods that led to the most recent drought which occurred in 2013-14. All in all, drought in California can be traced back in 1860s and has been occurring frequently since then due to various reasons discussed below.
The absence of winter precipitation has been connected with the drought period in California (Seager, 2014 P. 6-7). This is due to the blockage of atmospheric pressure by ridge block thereby directing/shunning winter storms from reaching the area and in turn directing them to other areas. Other factors leading to drought in California include the chaotic interactions of the oceans dynamics and the atmosphere as well as land processes and other climate tele-connections have all led to the drought situations in the region (California department of water resources, 2014 P. 19). Human activities including the emission of greenhouse gases, poor agricultural methods have all been attributed to cause global warming and this is likely to intensify the drought conditions in California. The global temperatures have been rising leading to reduced precipitations .The water infrastructure largely depends on snowpack’s mostly found in Sierra Mountains. With increased dry spells, the low levels are likely to affect the drought level in the region (Cody, 2009 P. 2). At the same time, as indicated climate variability and climate changes have had a big impact of precipitation.
California department of water resources, February (2015). California’s most significant droughts: comparing historical and recent conditions: state of California: retrieved from: http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/docs/California_Signficant_Droughts_2015_small.pdf
California water. Nd. Floods, Droughts, and Lawsuits: A Brief History of California Water Policy retrieved from: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_211EHChapter1R.pdf
Cody, B. A., Brougher, C., & Folger, P. (2009). California drought, hydrological and regulatory water supply issues. [Washington, DC], Congressional Research Service.
Cooley, H., Donnelly, K., Phurisamban, R. and Subramanian, M., (2015). Impacts of California’s ongoing drought: Agriculture. Pacific Institute: Oakland, CA, USA.
Seager, R., Hoerling, M., Schubert, S., Wang, H., Lyon, B., Kumar, A., Nakamura, J. and Henderson, N.H., (2014). Causes and predictability of the 2011-14 California Drought: assessment report.