A recent study warns that California will face more intense floods and droughts over the next 100 years.
California has been having a rough time with its weather. When it’s sunny out, rivers run dry and groundwater tables become perilously overdrawn. When it’s raining, weakened sedimentary features lead to massive floods and landslides. And in between, wildfires come dangerously close to people’s homes and towns.
According to a press release from the Department of Energy, the Pacific Ocean’s temperature cycles, known as El Niño and La Niña, could be thrown seriously out of whack, leading to more devastating flood and drought events across the state over the next 100 years.
Like many places in the world, the effects of climate change are expected to make severe weather events more frequent and intense. According to atmospheric scientist Jin-Ho Yoon with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, will have an increasingly prominent effect on California’s weather.
Research suggests that instead of a more constant, moderate precipitation, California will experience light drizzles and massive downpours on a more frequent basis. Using historical data to model a 75-year period from 1920 to 2005 and another from 2006 to 2080, the changes currently occurring don’t bode well for California.
The models revealed that in a century’s time, California will face more dramatic swings between wet and dry periods. The frequency of droughts could double and floods could increase by three times by the end of the 21st century.
Yoon says the ENSO is still a mystery, but he is sure that it will continue to affect the weather in California.