The Melt Of The Arctic Will Dry California Out, Study Finds

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The melting of the Arctic region will very possibly result in a further drying out of California, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

To explain that a different way, as the Arctic melts, droughts such as the recent 2012–2016 one in California will likely become much more prevalent — owing to the warming of the Arctic leading to the development of high-pressure atmospheric ridges in the Northern Pacific off of the coast of California, which will steer storms towards Canada and Alaska.

“This has the potential to make a drought very similar to the one we had in 2012 to 2016,” commented Ivana Cvijanovic, an atmospheric scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Atmospheric impacts of Arctic sea-ice loss. Shown are the ensemble mean differences (“low Arctic ice” minus control) for December–February (DJF) season. Stippling indicates anomalies that are statistically significant at the 90% confidence level. a Surface temperature anomalies. b Precipitation anomalies (absolute). c Precipitation anomalies (relative). d Outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies (shading) and the high cloud cover anomalies (contours). e 500 hPa geopotential distribution changes. f Stream function changes. Negative cloud cover anomalies in d are indicated with dashed lines.”

As a reminder here, most predictions entail the Arctic becoming largely thawed and free of ice within just the next 2 to 4 decades.

Reuters provides further information: “The recent 5-year drought cost California’s farmers billions of dollars in lost production, slashed seasonal agriculture jobs by the thousands, and spiked electricity bills for residents as hydroelectric systems failed.

“…Modeling by the scientists showed that the loss of sea ice could cause a 10% to 15% decrease in California’s rainfall when considering a 20-year mean, with some years becoming much drier and others becoming wetter.”

It should be realized here that those figures relate only to this study, and only to this particular line of causation. The figures will in practice need to be considered in combination with many other avenues by which California will be drying out over the coming decades — rising temperatures increasing evaporation rates; the disappearance of snowpack in the mountains; etc.

While this study was focused entirely on California, the implications have a much broader scope of relevance.

“Studies like this one imply that it’s not only a problem (for communities in Alaska) and that Arctic Sea ice loss that we expect in the next couple of decades could have massive effects” on Californians and various other people around the globe, Cvijanovic concluded.

Something to consider here — as California seemingly slides ever closer to mass depopulation by climate chaos (for lack of a better way to put it) — is whether some of the billionaires located in the state will at some point attempt large-scale geoengineering efforts rather than pursuing a simple change of residence (if it becomes necessary). There may well be just enough entitlement amongst some of them to do just such a thing. (A note here: I’m aware that cloud seeding is relatively commonplace in California. When I’m referring to “geoengineering,” I’m referring to ideas that are potentially far more dangerous.)

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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