Human-caused global warming has worsened California's extreme four-year drought by as much as 25%, says a new study that is just the latest to link the abnormally dry conditions with human-caused climate change. The study by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, published on August 20 in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that within a few decades, continually rising temperatures and resulting moisture losses will push California into even more persistent aridity.
Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, made a dire warning in March: there is only one year's worth of water left in the state's reservoir storage and river basins. Famiglietti said even nature's oldest water backup supply —groundwater — could be gone soon after the reservoirs dry up. About 38.8 million people live in California, which produces much of the United States' food. California's drought is throwing the ecology of the region into crisis, and ordinary people are scrambling for ways to help.