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.
Aaron Putnam’s research in the California Sierras is part of an effort to study glaciers around the world—in Europe’s Alps, the Himalayas, Mongolia, Patagonia, New Zealand. He’s working on an important piece of the worldwide climate puzzle that can help us understand what’s ahead in a warming world.
Water reuse is a proven technology that can produce a drought-proof sustainable water supply. Yet historically, there has been some reluctance to adopt it here in the United States. Xylem commissioned a poll to try to better understand perceptions about recycled water in drought-stricken California. And the findings were eye-opening.
“Future extremes are going to occur more and more frequently. In planning, we don’t need to plan for the 2 degree warming that we are aiming for as a globe, we need to plan for the 10 degree increase in a day, or the year when there’s no water.”
In Southern California, a strong El Niño usually signals rain. Given that California is now in the throes of a severe drought, it seems like that should be a good thing, even if it comes with risk of floods. But the reality of climate is more complex and counter-intuitive than it first appears.
Ancient Pollen Points to Mega-Droughts in California Thousands of Years Ago
Ancient pollen spores that were in the air when mammoths roamed Southern California are providing new insights into historic droughts in the region, including how a series of mega droughts 25,500 to 27,500 years ago changed the ecological landscape.
In its first 40 years, the Lamont Tree Ring Lab tracked changing climates around the world, building an international reputation as a global leader in research, training and technology.
“Future extremes are going to occur more and more frequently. In planning, we don’t need to plan for the 2 degree warming that we are aiming for as a globe, we need to plan for the 10 degree increase in a day, or the year when there’s no water. We need to plan for worst-case scenarios.”
California’s water crisis is further proof that environmental issues must be fully integrated into economic development plans and projects. Sustainability management requires that we factor these physical resources and constraints into our designs for new homes, businesses and institutions.