STANFORD, Calif., March 2 (UPI) -- According to a new study, California's historic drought was caused primarily by climate change.
Researchers at Stanford looked at temperature, precipitation and drought data for California dating as far back as 1895. They found droughts are more common in warm and dry years, and those kinds of years have been more common the past few decades. They looked at the effect of greenhouse gases on weather patterns and found it was indeed increasing the likelihood of droughts occurring.
"When we look at the historical record, not only do we see a doubling of the odds of a warm-dry year, but we also see a doubling of the frequency of drought years," said Danielle Touma, a graduate student in Diffenbaugh's Climate and Earth System Dynamics research group and a co-author on the study. "Warm conditions reduce snowfall, increase snowmelt and increase water loss from soils and plants."
"While our findings don't provide any particular recommendations," Diffenbaugh said, "they do provide very strong evidence that global warming is already making it much more likely that California experiences conditions that are similar to what we have experienced during the current severe drought."
The study is published in the March edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.