Status of the drought in California as of October 21, 2014. (Credit: Michael Brewer / NDCD/NOAA)
Drought in California is likely due at least in part to natural weather fluctuations, but global warming has made it approximately 25 percent worse, according to a release from the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Higher temperatures due to climate change have caused even more moisture from plants and soil to be lost in the air, leading to drought conditions that are more severe.
Scientists at the school examined data from 1901 to 2014, looking for trends in rainfall, temperature, humidity and wind. They did not find a trend for precipitation, but they did find that temperatures were 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher over the entire period.
The higher temperatures show no signs of abating in California, but there is disagreement amongst researchers regarding the persistence of the California drought. While some believe that the California climate may have permanently changed, others feel that the lack of rain is due to a persistent high-pressure ridge over the northeast Pacific, which has been blocking moist air from the ocean. Once that ridge disappears, some believe rain will return.
Top image: Status of the drought in California as of October 21, 2014. (Credit: Michael Brewer / NDCD/NOAA)