Yikes! California's extreme drought could last "a decade or more", 2014 driest year in a century

US Drought July 22 2014
Screen capture USDM

California has been going through a drought for about 3 years now, with 2013 being the driest year on record for most parts of the state and 2014 on its way to being the driest in about a century. This is affecting almost everything in the state (including the beer!), and increasingly drastic water conservation measures are now a must. And with agriculture using about 80% of the state's water supply, it would probably make sense to stop growing some of the most water-intensive crops like cotton and rice (which shouldn't be grown in semi-arid regions anyway).

Here's a close-up on the most affected regions:

USDM/Screen capture

After all this time, Californians thought they finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel with a higher probability of an El Niño cycle bringing some rain, but it looks like the light at the end of the tunnel is turning out to be a train, so to speak; experts are now reducing the probabilities of relief in the near future.

In fact, at least one expert, Lynn Ingram, a geography professor at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the drought could persist for a decade or more, making it one of the worst in the past 500 years. "Dr Ingram points to paleo-climate data that correlate the thickness, or absence, of growth-rings in trees with annual precipitation. Such records show California has suffered two droughts over the past 1,200 years that lasted for 120-200 years." Yikes!

The National Drought Mitigation Center hosts the U.S. Drought Monitor where you can find a lot more data about the current state of the drought in the West.

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Meanwhile, some people near Los Angeles are getting fined for not watering their lawn enough... The world can be crazy sometimes.

via The Economist

Tags: California | Drinking Water | Drought

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