A bit of a worrying future in store for California:
A team led by climatologist Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University in California has used historical data and climate models to show that global warming is increasing the odds of the state seeing warm, dry conditions similar to those that spawned the current drought (N. S. Diffenbaugh et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 3931–3936; 2015).
The droughts could even last for many decades. By incorporating palaeoclimate data into climate models, Benjamin Cook of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and two co-authors are predicting droughts that could last as long as 35 years (B. I. Cook et al. Sci. Adv. 1, e1400082; 2015).
“We’re in a new climate, and it’s a climate in which the probability of severe drought conditions is elevated,” Diffenbaugh says. “That recognition is really critical.”