‘Weighting the Dice’

April 14, 2015

jpeg-26After a most-excellent soaking during the night, the rain has ceased and most of the clouds have fluttered eastward, as the early light this Tuesday comes to California’s north coast — hopefully, ‘mostly sunny’ for the rest of the day.
I’ve some errands to run this morning, via two feet, and maybe the clouds will stay thin and pretty — a good indication of clarity is the diving temperatures. Pretty cold earlier, a frost advisory in effect for awhile.

Preliminary rainfall totals for March are out from the NWS, and it appears our little area has suffered in the precipitation arena —  sparse wetness recorded at the Eureka/Arcata airport (about a mile or so from where I’m currently sitting on my ass) with just 3.78-inches for last month.
In March 2014, 8.85-inches, which accounts for one shitload of a drop.

Lack of rain/snow will keep our infamous drought slugging merrily right along.

(Illustration found here).

This horrific situation will actually worsen.
Yesterday, from the New York Times:

Few experts say California is now in the grip of a megadrought, which is loosely defined as one that lasts two decades or longer.
But the situation in the state can be seen as part of a larger and longer dry spell that has affected much of the West, Southwest and Plains, although not uniformly.
“The California drought is kind of the latest worst place,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.
The wider dry spell began after the last strong El Niño, the weather pattern that develops in response to warmer water temperatures in the Eastern Pacific and can bring heavy winter precipitation. That was 17 years ago.
“What we’re seeing is nudging up to being comparable to some of the megadroughts,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

Most climate models show Northern California becoming slightly wetter in the decades to come, but at the same time, average temperatures are expected to increase across the state.
And just as record-high temperatures exacerbated the drought this year by causing more evaporation and reducing snowpack, warmer conditions can be expected to make things worse in the future.
A recent study, for example, suggests that in the second half of this century, the warming that will result from rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will greatly increase the risk of a severe long-term drought in the Southwest and Plains that could rival or even exceed some of the ancient ones.
“Climate change is really weighting the dice” in favor of future megadroughts, said Toby R. Ault, a researcher at Cornell University and an author of the study.

In 2010, Jay R. Lund, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, participated in a study of the economic effects of a 72-year-long hypothetical drought in which the state got about half as much water as normal each year.
(They found that their virtual drought did not need to be longer than that because water supply and use eventually reached an equilibrium.)
Still, agricultural towns would suffer as they lost much of their economic base.
Urban residents would chafe under water restrictions more draconian than those imposed by Mr. Brown.
And the environment would be hit very hard, Dr. Lund said, as reduced stream flows would threaten whole ecosystems.
“But I was actually surprised at how well we’d get through such a drought,” he said.
“California would not dry up and blow away.
“It would be bad but we would still have civilization, so long as we managed it at all well.”

A really big, big ‘if‘ can be felt in those last few words.
Hence, rain, rain don’t go away…first come, then stay…

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