From Where We Are

Climate study shows no end in sight for California drought

The drought is the most prominent the state has seen in over one-thousand years

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It’s no secret that California is in a drought. But a study published yesterday sheds light on just how severe the state’s dry conditions are.

The dry period that has plagued the American West for the past 22 years classifies as a megadrought rather than simply a drought because of its multi-decade duration, and this study found that the megadrought is being exacerbated by human impact.

Because of increased severity of dry conditions in 2021, the current megadrought surpassed another period from the 1500s to officially become the driest period in 1200 years.

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change and helmed by UCLA geography professor Park Williams, as well as two other climate scientists.

A similar study conducted by Williams in 2019 predicted that the period was nearing its end. But 2021 turned out to be the driest year since 2002, only worsening conditions of the megadrought.

The three scientists estimated that 42% of the drought’s severity is due to temperature increases caused by a rise of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. This further confirms that global warming caused by human activity is worsening the American West’s dry conditions.

The megadrought has had devastating effects on Southern California specifically over its 22-year span. California reservoirs have shrunk, farmlands have been parched and wildfires have ravaged forest regions.

Climate scientists warn that the dry period won’t let up any time soon. They say that increased global warming will only worsen dry conditions.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Fitz Cain