Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study.
Rising temperatures resulting from increased greenhouse gas emissions mean warm and dry periods are coinciding more frequently, the study authors say. And that is amplifying the effects of low precipitation.
"The key for drought stress is not just how much precipitation there is," said Noah Diffenbaugh, the paper's lead author and an associate professor at Stanford University's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. "Temperature is an important influence on the water available in California."