The worst three-year drought in 1,200 years has hit Californians, says the latest study available in an American Geophysical Union journal.
The dryness is not the highest to be recorded in a three-year time span but the “anomalously low” precipitation and “record-high” temperatures combination makes 2012-2014 stand out, according to the research.
Furthermore, seen from the viewpoint of history and the shifting climate, this current harsh episode won’t be the last, the study’s co-creator thinks. According to Daniel Griffin, an assistant professor with the University of Minnesota’s department of geography, drought episodes are going to be recurrent in the future.
The scholar’s endeavors have been focused in the past ten years on tree rings, humidity and drought in the state of California.
Teaming up with co-author Kevin J. Anchukaitis, paleo- climatologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the two scientists tried to figure out how the state’s existing rainfall levels and drought brutality contrasted with the situation in the past centuries.
Precipitation levels were revealed by examining the rings of blue oak trees found in Central and Southern California.This particular type of tree’s growth rhythm is strongly connected with rain.
Comparing tree ring information with the rain archives of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enabled the two scholars to recreate the rainfall levels hundreds of years into the past.
Current drought scale was obtained by turning to the data recorded in the North American Drought Atlas of historical drought severity going back at least 1,200 years.
The results of the study conveyed that as far as “cumulative severity” was concerned the drought of 2012-14 “stands out in the context of the last millennium”.
Practically this contemporary rather short drought episode was more severe than those extended over eight years or more. According to estimates of the study, there were about 37 three-year drought in 1,200 years.
Nevertheless scarce precipitations were not unparalleled. Subsequently, it appears that close to the turn of the 20th century and the early 16th century there was less rain in a three-year drought period.
This new study also led researchers believe that higher temperatures may have aggravated the current drought by as much as 36%. Topping that with limited precipitations, the circumstances were perfect to create California’s nastiest drought in over 1,000 years.