Another Diffenbaugh Claim: California drought patterns becoming more common

Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford is a well-known source of papers claiming alarming things about weather and climate. He churns out a paper about 2-3 times a year, with the typical bent of climate change is causing “X”. This one is no different. A few caveats:

Diffenbaugh only shows the worst photos with the press release, like these that were included:

Drought has drained California’s Tuolumne River, leaving riverbed where there was water. CREDIT USGS
California’s Trinity Lake is a mere shadow of its former self, since drought arrived. CREDIT USGS


What he won’t show you are photos like this one:

Lake Oroville's dramatic rise. Top picture is November 2014, bottom is now. Thanks to Hank Hansen for the pictures.
Lake Oroville’s dramatic rise. Top picture is November 2014, bottom is March 2016.
Thanks to Hank Hansen for the pictures. (via Kris Kuyper of Action News Now)

Or graphs like this one:


Here is the press release:

Atmospheric patterns linked with drought occurred more frequently in recent decades


Atmospheric scientists have found that California’s highest temperatures are almost always associated with blocking ridges, regions of high atmospheric pressure than can disrupt wind patterns – including one known as the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. The Triple R, as it’s called, is also linked with California’s drought.

In new research published online this week in the journal Science Advances, a team of researchers led by Stanford University scientist Noah Diffenbaugh analyzed the occurrence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns that occurred during California’s historical precipitation and temperature extremes.

“Atmospheric circulation patterns are associated with various weather and climate events, ranging from flash floods caused by single-day downpours to multi-year, continent-wide droughts,” Diffenbaugh said.

Diffenbaugh, Stanford researcher Daniel Swain and other coauthors investigated whether atmospheric pressure patterns similar to those that happened during California’s historically driest, wettest, warmest and coolest years have occurred more frequently in recent years.

Implications for water resources, agriculture, energy

“Improved understanding of the drought in California has implications for water resources management, agriculture, hydropower and energy,” said Anjuli Bamzai, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research.

Bamzai said that while the region has recently experienced relief in snowfall and rainfall.

“The epic drought is far from over. These scientists show that the frequency of atmospheric circulation patterns that worsen drought conditions has increased over the long-term.”

The study focused on the northeastern Pacific Ocean and far western North America, encompassing the winter “storm track” region from which the vast majority of California precipitation originates.

The researchers used historical climate data from U.S. government archives to investigate changes during California’s rainy season, from October to May.

They identified the specific North Pacific atmospheric patterns associated with the most extreme temperature and precipitation seasons between 1949 and 2015. The analysis revealed a significant increase in the occurrence of atmospheric patterns linked with certain precipitation and temperature extremes over the 67-year period.

In particular, the scientists found increases in atmospheric patterns resembling what has happened during the latter half of California’s ongoing multi-year drought.

“California’s driest and warmest years are almost always associated with some sort of persistent high pressure region, which can deflect the Pacific storm track away from California,” said Swain. “Since California depends on a relatively small number of heavy precipitation events to make up the bulk of its annual total, missing out on even one or two of these can have significant implications for water availability.”

The “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge”

The scientists concluded that one such persistent ridge pattern was diverting winter storms northward and preventing them from reaching California during the state’s drought.

In 2014, the researchers published findings showing that the increasing occurrence of extremely high atmospheric pressure over this same part of the Northeastern Pacific is very likely linked with environmental change. But the group wanted to know whether the particular spatial pattern associated with the Triple R has become more common — a question not asked in the 2014 study.

The new study provides a more direct answer to this question. “We found that this specific extreme ridge pattern associated with the ongoing California drought has increased in recent decades,” Swain said.

Despite the fact that the number of very dry atmospheric patterns in California has increased, the number of very wet atmospheric patterns hasn’t declined.

“We’re seeing an increase in certain atmospheric patterns that have historically resulted in extremely dry conditions, and yet that’s apparently not occurring at the expense of patterns that have been associated with extremely wet patterns,” Swain said. “We’re not necessarily shifting toward perpetually lower precipitation conditions in California — even though the risk of drought is increasing.”

That might sound contradictory, but it’s not, the scientists say.

Imagine looking at a 10-year period and finding that two of the years are wet, two are dry, and the rest experienced precipitation close to the long-term average. Now imagine another decade with three very dry years, three very wet years, and only four years with near-average precipitation.

“What seems to be happening is that we’re having fewer ‘average’ years, and instead we’re seeing more extremes on both sides,” Swain said. “This means that California is starting to experience more warm/dry periods, punctuated by wet conditions.”

The role of temperature

Another important contributor to drought is temperature. Diffenbaugh previously found that higher temperatures during periods of low precipitation in California doubled the risk of drought.

The researchers also discovered that the long-term warming of California has substantially increased the number of hot years, thereby increasing the risk that low precipitation periods produce drought.

“The current record-breaking drought in California has arisen from both extremely low precipitation and extremely warm temperature,” Diffenbaugh said. “We found clear evidence that the extreme atmospheric pattern associated with these unprecedented warm and dry conditions has become more likely in recent decades.”


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Paul Westhaver
April 2, 2016 4:19 pm

Hype is the new academic virtue. I recall a news article similar to this paper that ran in the Globe and Mail about the drying up Po River in Italy. It was all because of climate change…of course I believe the charlatan who wrote the article was Martin Mittlestaedt (a Green Peace sympathizer and “journalist”) It featured a photo of a woman sunbathing on a nearly dry riverbed. He never mentioned the enormous usage of the fresh water in the Italian Industrial base… or the occasional seasonal flooding.
Do you think we’ll see images of this same location on the Tuolumne River when there is a flood? Nope.
Hype now. Next year the hype will be on another subject.

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 2, 2016 8:53 pm

Given the “layered” erosion lines on the upper banks I’m guessing that the section of stream shown is at the upstream end of one of the reservoirs. Using this photo is about as misleading as he can get.
The photo represents what the stream would look like almost all of the time, during any wet, dry, or average precipitation year (if there were no downstream reservoir and dam). You can see the reservoir average high water line from the discoloration on the pilings.
If someone feels that they need to exaggerate to make their point, then they must feel that their point is lacking in some manner.

george e. smith
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 3, 2016 11:11 am

Well more common drought is good, because that indicates that California is gradually recovering to its natural state as a desert region.
We shouldn’t have messed with Mother Gaia and built those artificial lakes in the first place.
All of those areas were pristine dry regions before human influences destroyed the natural ecology, and let all that water puddle there, instead of naturally run out to sea.

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 3, 2016 4:00 pm

It verges on fraudulent misrepresentation. The Palmer Drought Index adjusts the drought level using the cooked temperature data… So at present, we have flood warnings and above average rain in Northern California and it is called a drought
FWIW, I’ve lived in Californis from the early 1950s to very recently. The 50s were much hotter. The 1970s were cold and the 1976? or so drought much worse. California has drought when it is colder…
The present California temperatures are a bit cool, compared to pre 1970, but a bit warm compared to the 1970s… I.e. absolutely normal. The “drought” is a creation of the method of definition, as we are presently above normal precipitation this water year (that is almost over).

April 2, 2016 4:24 pm

Weather in California seems to be a result of patterns in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and I do not see how Diffenbach ties that into anything. Obviously, ENSO has a considerable effect, but I do not remember any tie with ENSO and global warming.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 3, 2016 5:57 am

I grew up out there in the desert Southwest including California. The 1950’s were hot and dry! I remember the military base in the Death Valley region when I was very young. We were all warned to not stand with the sun in our face lest the heat warm our feet through the sneakers and burn our feet including, melting our shoes.
My father dug pits in the ground and covered these over for us to play in out of the hot sun! Then the 1960’s came and it was cold, cold at night to the point I bought a bunch of old fur coats from Value Village and made blankets out of these since my hippie hovel had no heating system (no one needed it during the previous 1920-1960 warm cycle!).

Don gleason
April 2, 2016 4:25 pm

Preposterous to draw these conclusions from a 67-year study period.

April 2, 2016 4:31 pm

Diffenbaugh is a relentless alarmist. But that is what gets funded. Diffenbaugh blamed drought on warmer temperatures but doesn’t tell you that maximum temperatures in most of California have cooled since the 1930s as shown in this published illustrations
Rising minimum temperatures have little, if any effect on drought.
There is no average precipitation in California. El Nino and La NIna cause precip to bound between extremes and there is no trend as determined by Blue Oak tree ring.

Reply to  jim Steele
April 3, 2016 1:44 pm

The “record heat” in California from the ridiculously-resilient ridge was a record-high average temperature during 2014 and 2015. But when you look at average summertime high temps they are not unusual. And when you look at those years in terms of absolute maximum temps they appear cooler than normal. So, in terms of “real feel” temperatures, California had an extremely mild climate in 2014 and 2015.

April 2, 2016 4:33 pm

Thanks for the post. It shows with great clarity the sort of total bollocks that is rife in climate “science”:

Bubba Cow
April 2, 2016 4:35 pm

thank goodness it is not CO2 …

April 2, 2016 4:38 pm

The graph from E R Cook tells the whole story. There is a report out on Yahoo describing (such as it can be) the idiocy of California water allocation such that certain southern farmers will only get 5% of their allotment while the 8 “threatened” species of fish in the San Joaquin/ Sacramento river delta will get 100% of the BLM administered dumping of water designed to keep brackish water from penetrating the delta from San Francisco bay and allowing predators to hunt the those fish! That graph should be published with every article on the California drought!

Reply to  fossilsage
April 3, 2016 3:48 pm

Also important is that the Delta Smelt thrive in brackish water, while the INTRODUCED competitor species likes fresh.
The Delta Smelt is threatened by a Government introduced Japanese Smelt that they mistakenly thought was the same. Oh, and the Government introduced predator species for sport fishing.
It is utterly stupid to flush fresh water into the bay when that helps the Japanese Smelt and hurts the Delta Smelt.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
April 3, 2016 8:39 pm

great link on the Natural History of the delta smelt…thanks

Joel O’Bryan
April 2, 2016 4:49 pm

The average person of course expects that a coin, honestly flipped will land on “heads” as often as “tails” with say 20 flips. But what if that doesn’t happen? Say a run of 5 tails in those 20 flips? Is the coin biased in that trial? Maybe? maybe not?

” “What seems to be happening is that we’re having fewer ‘average’ years, and instead we’re seeing more extremes on both sides,” Swain said.”

In say what makes up “climate”, the hundred year average ( > about 1 human lifespan), a few years of extremes + and – , that is few runs of heads followed by tails is actually to be expected. Especially where the system “remembers” a previous year’s state, like the blob of warm water that takes time to dissipate.
The conclusion:Diffinbaugh, who of course knows this, is exploiting a gullible, naive public for a PC cause, a green religion of which he is a well-paid academic priest.

george e. smith
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 3, 2016 11:21 am

Well Joel, you are a smart enough guy to know that ANY PATTERN of H/T for 20 flips including a run of five tails has exactly the same probability of occurrence; about a one in a million chance.
If I throw hthththththththththt, that is just as likely as ttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, or any other 20 flip pattern that you can concoct.
I thought you were a whole lot better than that Joel.

Taylor Pohlman
April 2, 2016 5:04 pm

“Between 1949 and 2015…”. Could it be he left out the 30’s because of the ‘inconvenient’ amount of heat then? At least he has an excuse for leaving out the 1850’s, presumably lack of data, but no such excuse for bisecting the twentieth.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
April 2, 2016 6:35 pm

They adjusted away the 30’s (and everything previous) and call anyone who still remembers them geriatric and suffering from dementia.
We must have the youth believe that disaster is imminent for their offspring which was brought about by their ancestors. That way the reshaping of free countries into territories of the Federation of United Nations will require minimal despotism

Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
April 2, 2016 8:39 pm

Yeah, they avoid the 1930’s like the plague.
Speaking of persistent high pressure systems, I believe the really hot years of the 1930’s were caused by a very persistent high pressure system that hung around the central U.S. for several years, which allowed the heat to build and build.
Sometimes these hot high pressure systems will center over the western third of the U.S., and sometimes (more often) will be centered over the central U.S. and sometimes they will center over the eastern third of the U.S.
The center of the high pressure system is always the hottest part.

Reply to  TA
April 2, 2016 9:12 pm

These hot high pressure systems usually only last about six months, and they don’t usually stall in place for too long a period of time (weeks usually), although if you are under one, you get hot pretty quick, and then they go away as fall approaches and the weather patterns start changing.
But sometimes, they can last much longer than just a few weeks or months, and as I said, in the case of the very hot decade of the 1930’s, a high pressure system sat over the central U.S. for a number of years. Weather like that doesn’t happen very often. Thank the Good Lord!
I don’t recall any very persistent high pressure systems in the 21st century. Most of them have not lasted long enough to really build up the heat, although I must say the 2010 heatwave was about as hot a summer as I have ever experienced. But, the heatwave broke later that year and the next summer was a very mild one, although anything would seem mild after 2010! 🙂
I do love the study of weather. I guess that makes me an amateur.

Richard G
Reply to  TA
April 3, 2016 12:26 am

We recently had the ridge in the N.E. Pacific that lasted more than a year and before that we had the death ridge in Texas.

April 2, 2016 5:15 pm

I liked this paragraph, from the “spin the wheel of climate change ” game.
“Diffenbaugh, Stanford researcher Daniel Swain and other coauthors investigated whether atmospheric pressure patterns similar to those that happened during California’s historically driest, wettest, warmest and coolest years have occurred more frequently in recent years.”

Reply to  Cam_S
April 3, 2016 6:03 am

The last paragraph is a real winner. One “record-breaking” , three “extremes” and one “unprecedented” crammed into four lines.

April 2, 2016 5:29 pm

What seems to be happening is that we’re having fewer ‘average’ years….

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Latitude
April 3, 2016 1:50 am

Exactly. You can’t make it up.

Reply to  Rainer Bensch
April 3, 2016 2:51 am

“You can’t make it up.”
But they do… they have no choice.

April 2, 2016 5:34 pm

Once you get beyond the hype, then this is the most sense l have heard the climate science in quite a while. They are right when say that static weather patterns do cause the climate to go more extreme.
lts common sense, the Sahara desert was not formed because its weather is as changeable as it is in the UK. The other risk with increases in high pressure forming over the NE Pacific. ls that the climate of NE America is likely to become cooler, as this pattern increases the chances of cold air coming down from the north over that area. How much cooler it becomes is dependent on how often it turns up and for how long this trend lasts.

Reply to  taxed
April 2, 2016 5:53 pm

Hate to be the bearer of bad news but the climate is warming NOAA says so and so does 97 percent of every single other scientist that ever lived ever !
Nah can’t say it with a straight face ,how do they do it ?

Reply to  Robert
April 2, 2016 7:10 pm

Robert the warm period before the last age was warmer then the current climate.
Now how do you think that it was able to change into a ice age. ?
Just through the magic of CO2.

Reply to  taxed
April 2, 2016 6:23 pm

so you believe in magic… they are talking about global “average” temperature

Reply to  Latitude
April 2, 2016 7:39 pm

Easy there Latitude, lets assume they are hungry for the facts.
It takes time to digest all the data.
Then again, if the person is just being a jerk, light them up.

April 2, 2016 6:18 pm

Average…sigh…Now I know for mathematicians and some sciences the word doesn’t necessarily mean what it means to the rest of the world, but.
Why would his “average” stay stationary? Those wet winters/dry winters plus his “average” winters would change the average, wouldn’t they???

April 2, 2016 6:22 pm

For these who doubt that a weather pattern cannot cause major changes in climate if they hang around for long enough. Then next weekend it looks like they about to get a lesson.
l will give no further details, as it will be interesting to see how many will have been paying attention.

Reply to  taxed
April 2, 2016 6:25 pm

the only thing that’s changed is CO2 levels…..CO2 doesn’t do that

Reply to  Latitude
April 2, 2016 6:37 pm

Current CO2 levels is causing major climate change.
Best to leave it to the AGW crowd to believe in fairy stories. 🙂

Reply to  Latitude
April 2, 2016 6:59 pm

My last post did not come out right.
l was not saying Latitude was claiming that CO2 is a cause of major climate change.

Reply to  taxed
April 3, 2016 3:27 am

Wow! A change in weather over a week or so is now climate change. Just Wow! I think your thinking process has been taxed a bit too much.

Reply to  sadbutmadlad
April 3, 2016 4:40 am

No the weather just gives you a “snapshot” of the effects of what changes to the weather patterns can do if they become a long term trend.
lf you are willing to pay attention.

April 2, 2016 7:05 pm

Mother Nature would be sitting back thinking. Where do these clowns get off!! I have been running this show for millions of years. Talk about telling grandma how to suck eggs!!
We spend billions on these “climate scientists” just to get rolling guesses about the weather.

Reply to  Brooke
April 2, 2016 7:42 pm

Ahhhem ,Predictions from models not guesses if they were guessing they would be right more often .

Reply to  Robert
April 2, 2016 8:25 pm

I’m 97% certain they are guessing. They’re just really bad at it.

Thomas Norkunas
April 2, 2016 7:26 pm

Perhaps others have noted it, but I think I discern a sine wave cycle in that 200 year drought graphic.

Johann Wundersamer
April 2, 2016 7:42 pm

origin ‘Tiefen Bach’
ought to know everything about deep rivers.

Johann Wundersamer
April 2, 2016 7:52 pm

I’d rather be interessed in Bernoulli,
Strömungsmechanik, Fluidmechanik oderStrömungslehre ist die Wissenschaft vom physikalischen Verhalten von Fluiden.
Regards – Hans

April 2, 2016 8:56 pm

It’s interesting that the study is confined to California as if the particular circumstances start and stop at the state boundary. In Australia it is often observed that there is almost always a drought occurring somewhere
in Australia. Confining a study to California is much the same as doing a similar study confined to one of Australia’s outback cattle stations.

Reply to  kalsel3294
April 3, 2016 12:48 am

You will find in oz we have lines on maps that determine temps , some are state bounderys then there’s the Tropic of Capricorn that figures in it as well which is wired two feet one side x temp two feet the other xx temp , this is homogenised of course .
Courtesy of the Burea of manipulation .

Reply to  kalsel3294
April 3, 2016 6:41 am

But there’s one thing you can always count on with the weather wherever you are in Oz-
Some outlooks never change.

April 2, 2016 8:57 pm

“California’s driest and warmest years are almost always associated with some sort of persistent high pressure region, which can deflect the Pacific storm track away from California,” said Swain.
Well duh, Daniel, and what of the glacial pattern which also clearly shows ridging over the American West and troughing over the East? That would be why there was a mile of ice on Detroit and a lake at Salt Lake City.
Daniel, CO2 was 170 ppm when that happened.

April 2, 2016 11:49 pm

I was at the Hoover Dam last Summer and lake Mead looked a little sad I must say.
Is it filling up yet?

April 3, 2016 3:19 am

Comparing temperature graph (blue line from with the article’s Medieval Mega-droughts graph
It appears to me there is no direct correlation between the temperatures and the droughts (subject to the accuracy of data used)

April 3, 2016 5:04 am

The belief that the present appears to be less average than the past, originate from a very simple cognitive bias.
Clearly, the past tends to be perceived with a low resolution, low sampling rate and resultant smoothing.
Extremes, both high and low, are averaged and smoothed over.
Whereas, the present tends to be perceived with a high resolution, high sampling rate and sharp definition.
We can’t help smoothing out the past because we have insufficient resolution – so smoothing and infilling is necessary in order to fill out the picture.
We like to fill out the picture, because we hate to recognize that often we have very poor or incomplete information. Since “not knowing” is neither reassuring nor satisfying, not profitable.
So, the result of this flaw in perception will be that humans always conclude that the present is more lumpy or extreme and less smooth or average, than the past.
There’s nothing that we can do about it. The perceived strangeness of the present will always accompany the human race through time.
Luckily, for modern humans we now have a thing called science, which allows us to take precise measurements, and to keep records and to make precise analysis of overall trends.
Sadly, at the same time we have many demented monkeys who would seek to twist science in order to delight or shock the crowds, by tapping into primal psychological flaws and prejudices about reality.
It will never be difficult to convince people that the present is more “extreme”, since we are always prone to falsely believing that such is the case.
It really ought to be the job of scientists to reassure people that according to a strictly scientific analysis of the past – the present is completely unremarkable.
Instead, we have a modern era in which we see extremes of ridiculously resilient bullshit.
Except that, that too, is historically unremarkable.

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
April 3, 2016 6:12 am

Indeed, our distant ancestors hunting mastodons in Arctic conditions, must have been very angry when the huge herds of Ice Age animals died off and now everyone had to work as farmers to stay alive.
But then they figured out how to use friendly wolf animals to herd cattle and horses and sheep.

Reply to  emsnews
April 3, 2016 6:56 am

Yeah, but attempts to domesticate the sabre-tooth tiger met with limited success.
Too many…erm…incidents.

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
April 3, 2016 6:33 am

Yes much of what you say is true.
As l see it the best way to treat climate/weather is to treat it like its a movie, So the climate is the whole movie and that the weather are the single frames of that movie. While a single frame may not be important, the way they stack up certainly is.

April 3, 2016 5:17 am

The NOAA precipitation data for California show nothing unusual for recent years.

Reply to  MikeW
April 3, 2016 2:35 pm

1920-36 was drier than 2000-16. And yet the Palmer Drought Severity Index has hit new lows:
Could this have something to do with farmers sucking all the groundwater out of the San Joaquin Valley, parts of which have subsided as much as 28 feet?

Richard G
Reply to  MikeW
April 4, 2016 2:58 am

I know they changed the water year from July-June to Oct-Sept starting with the 2015/2016 water year, but I’m still used to the old version. When I look back I see many dry periods going back 120 years.
The drought from 1927/28 to 1933/34 had a cumulative deficit of over 36″ and the drought from 1916/17 to 1925/26 had a cumulative deficit of over 32″. The 18 year period from 1916/17 to 1933/34 had a cumulative deficit of 63″ and looked to be the driest period.
The current 2011/12 to 2014/15 drought would seem to be exceptional because it is the driest 4 year period with a cumulative deficit over 27″. While the current 9 year period from 2006/07 to 2014/15 has a cumulative deficit over 39″, it hasn’t reached the 63″ level of the early 20th century.
The drought from 1986/87 to 1991/92 was notable for a cumulative deficit over 31″ and the drought from 1975/76 to 1976/77 was notable for the driest 2 year period with a cumulative deficit over 20″.
For the 2015/16 water year, I would classify everything north of the Sacramento Valley as being not in drought conditions. I’ve heard they will be giving the farmers there 100% of their water allotments this year and flood gates have been opened in March on about a half dozen dams up there.
Conditions deteriorate the farther south you go in the state. Many reservoirs fed from the Central and Southern Sierra are not likely to recover this year. The worst reservoir I could find there was Isabella at 11% of it’s 568,000 AF capacity.

Tom in Texas
Reply to  Richard G
April 4, 2016 6:13 am

Richard, this is straight to a point I made in a few previous post. Looking at the approx. 60 year cycle, which has been discussed in the past, the weather pattern of the dust bowl, 1930,s seems to have been the same the started about 2006. It is believed to be a pattern the lasts 7 years most ereas and completes during the 11th year. thanks for the dates.

April 3, 2016 5:50 am

My clan has lived in California since the Gold Rush years.
California’s climate, when the planet is getting colder like during the Little Ice Age, is DRY. And still hot in the southern half of the state where my ancestors lived when they created Los Angeles which was nearly deserted when they arrived way back in 1850.
I grew up in the Sonora Desert and remember how dry it was during the 1950’s to the point, when it began raining while we were in church, we children began screaming with joy and ran out into the rain and my littlest brother thought the world was coming to an end and began crying because this weird stuff was falling from the heavens.
Then…in the 1960’s it rained and rained and rain and the dry desert was flooded and it was much colder and I had to buy a coat!

April 3, 2016 5:58 am

I was struck by the almost absurd nature of Diffenbaugh et al’s position and the one represented by the Cook et al cartoon graphic. I found a recent Cook et al paper that appears to be the source of the latter. It appears to be a very thorough piece of analysis. I then checked to see how Diffenbaugh referenced Cook in his 2015 paper on unprecedented drought. One of his Cook references leads to the following paper. The key for me is that Cook comes to a similar conclusion IF he uses GCM based projections based on the 8.5 IPCC Scenario. Critiquing Diffenbaugh, therefore, requires a critique of GCMs and their projections.

April 3, 2016 6:14 am

This itty bitty drought in California is not ‘unprecedented’ at all. There have been terrible long, 100 year long droughts in the past which is why so many plants and animals have evolved long, long ago, to deal with these drought conditions.

April 3, 2016 6:16 am

Another fact of life: nearly all trees in Los Angeles are alien transplants brought in since 1850. Virtually no one sees any native plants there and this includes tumble weeds which were brought in by settlers. They are not native, either, indeed, most ‘weeds’ are alien things brought in by humans who came in since 1900.

April 3, 2016 6:18 am

One of the native plants are greasewood bushes. That, and grasses of various sorts that have very deep roots and can survive long droughts. These are all called ‘weeds’ and ruthlessly uprooted when houses are built.

Taylor Pohlman
Reply to  emsnews
April 3, 2016 7:48 am

Bernie1815 – “… Based on the IPCC 8.5 scenario…”
Is there anybody left, even in climate science, that still believes that 8.5 is viable? Look at the sensitivity to CO2 in that scenario – I see no proof in any recent studies that 8.5 is plausible, yet the alarmists keep dragging it out when trying to support some improbable outcome. When I see a study based on an 8.5 model, it gets round-filed immediately.

Pamela Gray
April 3, 2016 7:30 am

So what would a 67 year span look like on this graph of swings that have likely affected Africa over the past oh, million years?
People who study California with regard to 67 years are a bit childish and like to study miniature things.
Grown ups study this:

Taylor Pohlman
Reply to  Pamela Gray
April 3, 2016 7:58 am

Great citation, thanks. It does seem like science is being done in places, and this data-rich study seems an excellent example. Others will hopefully aspire higher, and if peer review actually worked, there’d be forced to.

April 3, 2016 8:10 am

We checked out Lake Shasta last weekend (20 minute drive from our home) and while it’s not quite brim full it’s pretty darn close. Lovely to see. It must really tick off the environazis who hate it when Mother Nature doesn’t listen to their stupid childish whining.

Steve Oregon
April 3, 2016 9:40 am

Most of the reservoirs are here.
I’ve been watching them for some time.
Many have Facebook pages as well.
Campers and boaters are giddy.
There’s ongoing controversy over water dumping at Trinity Lake.
“The Trinity Center ramp is usable down to about 2,295′, so the lake only has to come another 11′ to reach the bottom of the ramp. But they will start dumping the lake in late April or early May, so then the question will be if the snow melt can keep up with their aggressive dumping of the lake. Hopefully the Trinity Center ramp touches water for a least a few weeks.
The next week is critical — if we get much rain, the Bureau will declare this a “wet” year and dump the lake in May. Nominally, they make their determination on April 1, appropriately enough, but they won’t really announce it until after the TMC meeting April 6/7. However, the early word is that they are going to start dumping the lake down the river earlier in April this year than in recent years.
In a “wet” year, they dump about 62 feet of lake elevation down the river for their failed “restoration” project. This doesn’t count the water they send down the river for the “boat dance”, the “avoid-a-fish-kill-on-my-watch” dumping of the lake, the Humboldt 50,000 af “take”, or any other special interest group nonsense in August. In a “normal” year, the dump is about 56 feet. In “critically wet” years, the dump is 74 feet, in “dry” years (like 2015), the dump is 37 feet, and in “critically dry” years, it is 32 feet.
Of course, they dump an equal amount over the hill for Westlands Water District and more fish nonsense in the Sacramento. So double the above numbers to estimate how much they will take from the lake in total. Most of the fish dump occurs before, and early in, boating season.”

Steve Oregon
Reply to  Steve Oregon
April 3, 2016 9:58 am

And Trinity Lake is not doing as well as the others.
53% of Total Capacity
67% of Historical Avg. For This Date

April 3, 2016 4:19 pm

maybe so, but are fossil fuel emissions to blame?

April 4, 2016 12:52 pm

“He churns out a paper about 2-3 times a year”. look, even ignoring the issue that this article is a bit unfair in giving Diffenbaugh ALL the credit/notoriety for what actually appears to be a paper written by his PhD student (the actual 1st author of the paper) if you are going to refer to their science, maybe you ought to at least do the math before belittling someone’s track record in public? Look, I appreciate that this is a blog. Anyone (particularly the blog owner/moderator) can write pretty much whatever comes into their head and expect that some will read it. I appreciate that, which is why I still come here hoping to glean something useful from the alternate views on vigorous debates that will hopefully lead (eventually) to some mutual acknowledgement that there is misinformation and misinterpretation happening on both sides. But my day job is as a scientist. Sure, not a climate scientist but part of my job still requires me to frequently assess other people’s research track records (usually in the context of job or grant applications). So I take issue with Anthony’s claim here . Call me part of a system that pays homage to worthless scientists if you like, but a cursory look at the Thomson ISI database (the “Web of Science” – the most ‘choosy’ of the scientific bibliographic databases ) lists 31 articles with Diffenbaugh as co-author in 2013-15. I make that at least 10 per year in recent years (and many of those in better journals than I’ve been able to manage publishing in). No doubt Google would list more…..

James at 48
April 5, 2016 9:17 am

The last period where Negative PDO dominated was 1940ish – 1978. Far lower demand on water systems back then. Also, significantly, Pat Brown wisely fostered major water infrastructure improvements mid century. All the previous Negative PDO periods were back when almost no one was here, so N/A. Now we have another overall Negative period (I know, I know, some claim it flipped Positive for a few years more recently but the overall period since the beginning of the Century is negative). We are essentially in unknown territory – Negative PDO with no substantial infrastructure increase since the middle of the last century.

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