Global warming, El Nino could cause wetter winters, drier conditions in other months

September 4, 2018, University of California - Riverside
The 2017 California floods might be a sign of things to come. A UC Riverside study indicates that California can expect more intensive winter rains. Credit: California Department of Water Resources

So here's the good news: Despite fears to the contrary, California isn't facing a year-round drought in our warming new world.

However, UC Riverside Earth Sciences Professor Robert Allen's research indicates that what precipitation the state does get will be pretty much limited to the months—think deluge-type rainfall rather than snow—and non-winter months will be even dryer than usual, with little or no rain at all.

"It is good news," Allen said. "But only relative to the alternative of no rain at all."

Allen's latest findings build on his 2017 research that concluded global warming will bring increased winter precipitation to California through the end of this century.

The findings are outlined in a paper by Allen and his co-author Ray Anderson, research soil scientist at the USDA-ARS US Salinity Lab, titled "21st century California drought risk linked to model fidelity of the El Niño teleconnection." It was published September 3 in Climate and Atmospheric Science.

The paper focuses on how "greenhouse-gas-induced climate change" will affect drought conditions in the state. The findings are based on 40 climate models that were compared to actual precipitation, soil moisture, and streamflow in the state between 1950 and 2000.

Historically, about 90 percent of California's rain and snow have come during the winter months of December, January, and February, Allen said, with sporadic rain scattered over the rest of the year. But now, warming surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are expected to amplify the rainy season by sending stormy El Niño conditions over the state in the winter.

Bottom line, Allen said, the flooding and mudslides that accompanied the heavy winter rains of 2017 shouldn't be considered an aberration, but potentially California's new weather norm.

The trick will be finding a way to capture excess water for dry periods, he said. "It's all about smoothing the seasonable differences. If we can take advantage of the enhanced winter rainfall, we can hopefully get through the drying trends the rest of the year."

Trapping that winter precipitation will be a challenge, however, especially since it's likely to come more in the form of rain than snow due to the warming climate. Historically, snow in the mountains feeds reservoirs and provides water to agriculture when it is needed in the summer, but rain will just run off unless it is captured.

Allen's findings also bode ill for California's fire season. The state's new norm could mimic—or surpass—the fire season of 2017, the worst in California's history, as wet winters encourage lush spring growth that will quickly parch during the hot and dry season, becoming wildfire fuel.

In fact, Allen said, these "new norm" projections aren't for a distant future.

"I think it's here now, so we need to start acting as quickly as possible," he said. "Adaptation is incredibly important in response to climate change, and in this case it means enhancing our water storage capabilities, our reservoirs and dam structures, because things are going to become drier in the nonwinter months."

And for ordinary citizens? This might be a great time to start investing in barrels.

"In Southern California, it could mean having native plants in your yard because a grass yard has to be irrigated, and that's probably not the wisest use of water," he said. "It's all about living sustainably."

Explore further: California projected to get wetter through this century

More information: Robert J. Allen et al, 21st century California drought risk linked to model fidelity of the El Niño teleconnection, npj Climate and Atmospheric Science (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41612-018-0032-x

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Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.2 / 5 (10) Sep 04, 2018
Ahaa...so the ever-present fortune-tellers are still modeling after records of past weather/climate to predict whatever will be of things to come.

But Mother Nature will do as she wishes,
While predictions are subject to failure and successes.

They could also shoot some dice, so that:

7 could mean heavy rains and snake-eyes could mean drought.
2 sixes could mean that it's time to get out
2 fours and chances are you may fall through the floor
While 2 fives mean that you may get out alive

Sorry, I couldn't help it. :)
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2018
""I think it's here now, so we need to start acting as quickly as possible," he said. "Adaptation is incredibly important in response to climate change, and in this case it means enhancing our water storage capabilities, our reservoirs and dam structures, because things are going to become drier in the nonwinter months.""

The dreaded news that was to take place far into the future has now become of immediate concern to one and all. This could mean that the liberal/socialist/Marxist State of California will induce its citizens to purchase rain barrels and plant plants that are able to sustain themselves even under drought conditions. That means "no grass grown", except that which is rolled up and smoked. The citizens of California will gradually lose their Freedoms and will only do as the Liberal-Socialist politicians and the courts tell them to do under penalty of a possible ruling of sedition.
Such idiocy from California could also extend to the rest of the Nation.
Old_C_Code
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2018
More rain. Now this is what you'd expect from warming.
howhot3
4 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2018
Global warming will certainly increase the potential for extreme rains. Obviously the more you warm the ocean surface, the more the water will evaporate. And as we all know, it will make for more clouds and rain. Another aspect of global warming is that it raises the temperatures of the clouds and lofts them higher. With more water and warmer clouds, when it enters into a cold front and condenses the water, the results are more intense storms and more rain from the condensation of the water content. So it won't just be California affected (at least from the rains). We can expect the superstorms and heavy rain gushers to strike all over based on prevailing weather patterns.

As a side note: to @egg; When you try to bash liberals, Name one thing that a conservative has done for you that's any good. They are corrupt to the bone.

Old_C_Code
1.8 / 5 (10) Sep 04, 2018
Oh BS Chicken Little, nothing has happened so far. You really need to take a chill pill. And sadly, I'm not a conservative, but they are not corrupt to the bone. Shows what an ignoramus you are with that statement.

Warming increasing the extremes is kind of common sense. The issue is warming, how much how little. We know now CO2 rising 30% hasn't effected temperature. And past historical graphs show CO2 AS A FUNCTION OF TEMPERATURE, not the other way around.
So we really don't know what 30% rise in CO2 will do, besides make things greener.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.3 / 5 (9) Sep 04, 2018
Global warming will certainly increase the potential for extreme rains. Obviously the more you warm the ocean surface, the more the water will evaporate. And as we all know, it will make for more clouds and rain. Another aspect of global warming is that it raises the temperatures of the clouds and lofts them higher. With more water and warmer clouds, when it enters into a cold front and condenses the water,(..)

As a side note: to @egg; When you try to bash liberals, Name one thing that a conservative has done for you that's any good. They are corrupt to the bone.

says howhot

Um let's see. Lower income taxes; lower gasoline prices; Americans are going back to work; higher wages; American businesses that fled overseas due to Obama's high taxes and insane regulations are returning to the US and hiring Americans; North Korea is no longer so cocky wrt nuking the US; Communist China now knows that the US is no pussay; President Trump is busy cleaning up the swamp;
zz5555
3.9 / 5 (7) Sep 04, 2018
More rain. Now this is what you'd expect from warming.

You'd also expect more drought. There are two causes of drought: less water (decreased precipitation) and more heat. Since there clearly won't be more precipitation everywhere, the result will be more drought - something which has already been observed.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 04, 2018
--and the list goes on and on and on.
Is that enough for you, howhot?
Another thing. The San Joaquin Valley in California is sinking due to excessive water taken out from underground aquifers due to farm irrigation and personal household water use. It would be interesting to see what would happen if that land sank all the way down and the Pacific Ocean made its way into that space. I can't imagine what it would be like.
zz5555
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 04, 2018
Warming increasing the extremes is kind of common sense. The issue is warming, how much how little. We know now CO2 rising 30% hasn't effected temperature.

It's well known that over 100% of the warming since ~1970 has been due to humans - principally the increase in CO2. I'm not sure where you get the claim that increased CO2 has nothing to do with temperature. As I've said, the science isn't that difficult. To believe your claim, you'd have to believe that the sun doesn't affect temperature - and that's nuts.
And past historical graphs show CO2 AS A FUNCTION OF TEMPERATURE, not the other way around.

Most of the time that's true because most of the time there's nothing to increase the CO2 levels. But at the K-T boundary the eruption of the Deccan Trap basalts as well as the meteor hit resulted in a dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 and resulted in a ~7.5C increase in temperature.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2018
The Arabian Peninsula experiences more drought also. Those deserts once had lush vegetation and possibly jungles perhaps a million or more years ago. Now, all they have is petrol under the sands. Climate changes - causing deserts to form, as well as lush jungles such as the Amazon. Who can explain such events and why. Surely, there were no combustible engines a million years ago, as far as I know.
zz5555
3.4 / 5 (7) Sep 04, 2018
So we really don't know what 30% rise in CO2 will do, besides make things greener.

Yes, it would make some things greener. We also know very well that it makes much of the food less nutritious. We also know very well that it would raise global temperatures by ~1C. You've indicated that you're not interested in any science (or aren't able to understand it), so I'm not sure why you make the silly claims you do.
Old_C_Code
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 05, 2018
CO2 has nothing to do with temperature, else we'd be frying right now... genius.
It's risen 30%, geez. Food less nutritious? quick chill the planet for healthy food!!! fool.
Old_C_Code
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 05, 2018
zz: Silly claims, from someone who's created more products than you and anyone you've ever known will. You are a young punk who's accomplished nothing and think you're smart because you agree with silly climate articles.

30% increase in CO2, virtually no increase in temp. You are just a stupid idiot to ignore this.
zz5555
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 05, 2018
CO2 has nothing to do with temperature, else we'd be frying right now... genius.

Um, what? Any increase in CO2 means we have to be frying? That's kind of extremely silly.
Food less nutritious? quick chill the planet for healthy food!!! fool.

Um, why do you think that the measured loss of nutrition due to increased CO2 has anything to increased temperatures? CO2 has many more effects on vegetation.

Your comments here suggest an amazing lack of interest in science of any kind. You've claimed that there was no evidence for dark matter despite there being a great deal of evidence. Your claims on climate science are extremely silly. You repeatedly reject, out of hand, any observation evidence that you disagree with (eg, measured temperature changes, measured nutrition changes, gravitational lensing).

You seem to be arguing for the sake of arguing. These are the activities of a troll. I don't think you even care that you're wrong.
zz5555
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 05, 2018
zz: Silly claims, from someone who's created more products than you and anyone you've ever known will. You are a young punk who's accomplished nothing and think you're smart because you agree with silly climate articles.

Making claims about your accomplishments on the internet is meaningless. That you are repeatedly making such meaningless claims suggests a certain incompetence on your part. You appear to be another incarnation of benni.

30% increase in CO2, virtually no increase in temp. You are just a stupid idiot to ignore this.
Global temperatures have risen over 1C over the last 150 years. Mostly due to increases in atmospheric CO2 levels. Again, the basic science behind this is not very complicated. Your claim that there's been no warming shows an amazing disinterest in reality and belies your claims of accomplishments. I don't think it's possible for you to add any useful conversation.
Old_C_Code
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 05, 2018
Lying dope, the CO2 graph didn't get out of line till the 50's. And you continue to be a moron, ignoring this basic fact. Your logic is wacked.

Useful conversation = 30% increase in CO2 HASN'T effected temperature.
that's Not very complicated dumbazz.
zz5555
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 05, 2018
the CO2 graph didn't get out of line till the 50's.

Exactly. CO2 levels increased slowly until after WWII, when they really took off (https://www.skept...ion.html ). About the same time as temperature took off (https://www.zmesc...edented/ ). Just as the science says. Correlation may not be causation, but correlation and well understood physics sure as hell is.

30% increase in CO2 HASN'T effected temperature

You're new to the whole science and math and having to think logically, aren't you? Why don't you tell us all about your accomplishments again. I'm sure we'll be endlessly fascinated. Maybe you know differential equations? ;)
Solon
not rated yet Sep 05, 2018
Global weather, El Nino could cause wetter winters, drier conditions in other months
Old_C_Code
1 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2018
zz: temperature hasn't take in off, there is a rise in temperature yes, but it's not too much. Surely caused by man and other things besides CO2.

It's the CO2 lie that gets me, not that man effects global conditions.
howhot3
3 / 5 (4) Sep 05, 2018
Um let's see. Lower income taxes; lower gasoline prices; Americans are going back to work; higher wages; American businesses that fled overseas due to Obama's high taxes and insane regulations are returning to the US and hiring Americans; North Korea is no longer so cocky wrt nuking the US; Communist China now knows that the US is no pussay; President Trump is busy cleaning up the swamp;

So how much lower are taxes for you? Gas is based on market forces. Americans as always working You must be lucky about higher wages. Regulations are there because people abused the rights of others, we already had NK in check (SK is doing the heavy lifting there). We had China in reasonably contained trade with the TPP. And as far as swamps, trumpians are being indited like flies; So corrupt. So there is all of that. But that is probably all meaningless to the feeble minded. So I expect you to disagree.

AGW though is the real danger.
leetennant
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 06, 2018
More rain. Now this is what you'd expect from warming.


Firstly, you can expect more rain in certain areas. And less rain in other areas. The important thing is that it will change - rapidly and beyond our capacity to adapt. Since all our cities and agricultural areas are positioned due to current climatic conditions, then this the core of the problem.

But since you apparently can't read - we're not talking about California getting more rain. We're talking about California avoiding permanent drought. Which is "good news" of the "you still have terminal cancer but you're not going to die of a heart attack first" variety.
Old_C_Code
2 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2018
... you're such paranoid people, warming makes things better, this is common sense. And why it's funny to watch you go nuts over the reality that things are better than ever before in history.

Ojorf
3 / 5 (6) Sep 06, 2018
Old_C, at your age you should know that something that is good for you in moderation, even necessary, could still kill you in excess.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2018
... you're such paranoid people, warming makes things better, this is common sense. And why it's funny to watch you go nuts over the reality that things are better than ever before in history.

says C_Code

Everything you have said is true. And farmers cannot grow crops in the snow and ice of winter, which is why there are such things as canned fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are only available in winter in the markets as they are imported from other countries. Even Canada has to import fresh produce from Central America, and Canada has a very short growing season.
If CO2 were to be diminished everywhere, people would eventually starve when plant growth would also diminish. It is also well known that plants take in CO2 during the day and emits Oxygen at night because plants utilise Carbon but require very little Oxygen, if at all.

IOW, CO2 gives life. Plants emit O2 that we breathe. Fruits and vegetables grow because of CO2. We can't live without CO2
howhot3
not rated yet Sep 11, 2018
Congratulations there I guess you understand photosynthesis. It's a major accomplishment grasping the fundamentals of biological science where the uptake of CO2 is part of the process of creating sugars for a plant. And yet if you are so scientifically knowledgeable you would recognize the impact that CO2 can have as a greenhouse gas on this planet. So you should probably sharpen up your knowledge about global warming and quit being such a doofus.

It's very obvious that you have political biases that are influencing you're thinking.

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