California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists across the state
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This image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, captured on April 13, 2014, shows the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in parts per million. As the earth has warmed and the planet has absorbed more carbon dioxide in the last century, the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere has risen. The higher concentrations mean that global average temperatures are likely to take a turn for the cooler this winter with a big drop in the spring. (AP Photo/NOAA) (AP)
When California’s drought finally subsides, it will not be by accident. The long-term drought has been so severe — so destructive to agriculture and food supplies — that if it continues, the state’s farmers will not be able to grow enough crops to feed its people.
It is not that the drought is beyond human beings to end. As the weather pattern shifts to a cool, wet season instead of a typical hot, dry one, farmers will be able to plant more crops, and in some cases — especially in the Central Valley — the timing of the planting will be optimal.
By this September, however, with the winter at hand, California is expected to experience one more, and final, dry year, with precipitation the previous year, in addition to the usual late-winter drought.
By one estimate, there will have been an extra 12 months of drought, and at least six more years of dry vegetation.
“Every time we get a rain or a snowpack to put out there to help with evaporation and to help with water storage, it’s a win,” said Jim Mudgett, director of the California Climate Institute, a research group at the University of California, San Diego. “So at some point, the drought will end and the rain cycle will start all over again.”
In all, more than half of California’s population may live in a dry year. Most of the state’s forests and grasslands along the coastline have already been lost, as have the lakes that provide cooling waters to many areas. And the most severe droughts have cut off the flow of water from the Colorado River, which provides water for irrigation