California’s wet and snowy winter brings welcome relief from a years-long drought that has challenged the state’s water supply and agricultural system. But climate scientist Richard Seager of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory offers words of caution: Remember what happened, because it will happen again.
“One of the ways that climate change is going to manifest is through warmer temperatures. … What we are seeing, in line with our projections, is that even if you assume constant precipitation, the temperature effects are so large that it is going to dry things out. This is going to have really big impacts on soil moisture, reservoirs and stream flow for irrigation and drinking water. The availability of water is going to decline into the future, and the challenge is adjusting for that, and what that means for agriculture and development.”