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Title: California's Drought of the Future: A Midcentury Recreation of the Exceptional Conditions of 2012–2017

Abstract

The California drought of 2012–2016 was a record-breaking event with extensive social, political, and economic repercussions. The impacts were extensive and exposed the difficulty in preparing for the effects of prolonged dry conditions. Although the lessons from this drought drove important changes to state law and policy, there is little doubt that climate change will only exacerbate future droughts. To discern the character of future drought, this paper examines this recent drought period retrospectively and prospectively, that is, as it occurred historically and if similar dynamical conditions to the historical period were to arise 30 years later (2042–2046) subject to the effects of climate change. Simulations were conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting model using the pseudo global warming method. The simulated historical and future droughts are contrasted in terms of temperature, precipitation, snowpack, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and forest health. Overall, the midcentury drought is observed to be significantly worse, with many more extreme heat days, record-low snowpack, increased soil drying, and record-high forest mortality. With these findings in mind, the data sets developed in this study provide a means to structure future drought planning around a drought scenario that is realistic and modeled after a memorable historical analog.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Univ. of California, Davis, CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. U.S. Geological Survey, Carson City, NV (United States)
  4. Univ. of California, Davis, CA (United States); Public Policy Inst. of California, San Francisco, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22). Scientific User Facilities Division; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Climate and Environmental Sciences Division; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Public Policy Inst.; U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. National Inst. of Food and Agriculture
OSTI Identifier:
1515777
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231; SC0016605; CA‐D‐LAW‐2203‐H; 83586701
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; drought; climate change; climate modeling; pseudo global warming

Citation Formats

Ullrich, P. A., Xu, Z., Rhoades, A. M., Dettinger, M. D., Mount, J. F., Jones, A. D., and Vahmani, P. California's Drought of the Future: A Midcentury Recreation of the Exceptional Conditions of 2012–2017. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1029/2018EF001007.
Ullrich, P. A., Xu, Z., Rhoades, A. M., Dettinger, M. D., Mount, J. F., Jones, A. D., & Vahmani, P. California's Drought of the Future: A Midcentury Recreation of the Exceptional Conditions of 2012–2017. United States. doi:10.1029/2018EF001007.
Ullrich, P. A., Xu, Z., Rhoades, A. M., Dettinger, M. D., Mount, J. F., Jones, A. D., and Vahmani, P. Fri . "California's Drought of the Future: A Midcentury Recreation of the Exceptional Conditions of 2012–2017". United States. doi:10.1029/2018EF001007. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1515777.
@article{osti_1515777,
title = {California's Drought of the Future: A Midcentury Recreation of the Exceptional Conditions of 2012–2017},
author = {Ullrich, P. A. and Xu, Z. and Rhoades, A. M. and Dettinger, M. D. and Mount, J. F. and Jones, A. D. and Vahmani, P.},
abstractNote = {The California drought of 2012–2016 was a record-breaking event with extensive social, political, and economic repercussions. The impacts were extensive and exposed the difficulty in preparing for the effects of prolonged dry conditions. Although the lessons from this drought drove important changes to state law and policy, there is little doubt that climate change will only exacerbate future droughts. To discern the character of future drought, this paper examines this recent drought period retrospectively and prospectively, that is, as it occurred historically and if similar dynamical conditions to the historical period were to arise 30 years later (2042–2046) subject to the effects of climate change. Simulations were conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting model using the pseudo global warming method. The simulated historical and future droughts are contrasted in terms of temperature, precipitation, snowpack, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and forest health. Overall, the midcentury drought is observed to be significantly worse, with many more extreme heat days, record-low snowpack, increased soil drying, and record-high forest mortality. With these findings in mind, the data sets developed in this study provide a means to structure future drought planning around a drought scenario that is realistic and modeled after a memorable historical analog.},
doi = {10.1029/2018EF001007},
journal = {Earth's Future},
number = 11,
volume = 6,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {9}
}

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