Another benefit of warming – California projected to get wetter through this century

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside predict California will get an average of 12 percent more precipitation through the end of this century, compared to the last 20 years of last century. CREDIT UC Riverside Strategic Communications.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, climate models predict California will get warmer during the rest of the century and most also predict the state will get drier.

But, new research, published July 6th in the journal Nature Communications, predicts that California will actually get wetter. The scientists from the University of California, Riverside predict the state will get an average of 12 percent more precipitation through the end of this century, compared to the last 20 years of last century.

The researchers found different rates of precipitation increase for northern, central and southern California. Northern California, which they define as starting just north of Santa Rosa (southern boundary), would increase 14.1 percent. Central California, which starts just south of San Luis Obispo (southern boundary), would go up 15.2 percent. Southern California would actually decrease 3.3 percent.

They also found the winter months of December, January and February, when California traditionally gets the bulk of its precipitation, would account for much of the overall increase in precipitation. During those three months, precipitation levels would increase 31.6 percent in northern California, 39.2 percent in central California and 10.6 percent in southern California.

All these percentages are in comparison to data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project observed between 1979 and 1999.

“Most previous research emphasized uncertainty with regards to future precipitation levels in California, but the overall thought was California would become drier with continued climate change,” said Robert Allen, an associate professor at UC Riverside and one of the authors of the paper. “We found the opposite, which is quite surprising.”

The past uncertainty as to whether California would get more precipitation in the future was due to several factors, including year-to-year variations in individual weather events, shortcomings in models and because California lies within a transition zone, where northern parts of the state are expected to become wetter and southern portions are expected to be drier.

Allen, a faculty member in the Department of Earth Sciences, and Rainer Luptowitz, a graduate student working with Allen, analyzed 38 climate models developed around the world to reach their conclusions.

They found that warming in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, an area about 2,500 miles east of the international date line, is the main reason for the predicted increase in precipitation levels.

The warming sea surface temperatures encourage a southeastward shift of the jet stream, which helps steer more rain-producing mid-latitude cyclones toward California.

“Essentially, this mechanism is similar to what we in California expect during an El Nino year,” Allen said. “Ultimately, what I am arguing is El Nino-like years are going to become more the norm in California.”

But, Allen cautions that prediction of an El Nino-like year is no guarantee of a more wet winter in California. The 2015-16 winter was an example of that. Many other climatic factors must be considered.

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71 thoughts on “Another benefit of warming – California projected to get wetter through this century

  1. You really have to admire these people. Every time their model is proven wrong (not just off, but the exact opposite) by what the rubes can actually see in front of their eyes – they “reanalyze” it to show that the model is absolutely correct! It was saying that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia!

      • I would call it
        “Climate Science Du Jour”
        When California was in the midst of the drought situation, climate models were always predicting “Warmer-Drier” conditions for the state. A climate of worsening perpetual drought was the model prediction DU-JOUR.
        Now that a strong El Nino has come and gone moistening the state, the new paradigm climate model DU-JOUR is predicting wetter conditions.
        Just another case of Climate Science Du-Jour

    • Hot weather tends to be dry or drought conditions. So “as the world warms” it will get dryer …. obvious , init?

      But but, more frequent and more intense storms are to be expected “as the world warms”.

      But wetter areas will get wetter and dryer areas will get dryer.

      One thing is certain whatever happens it will “exactly as climate models predicted”, since climate models predict everything ( except a cooling climate which can be avoided by proper data manipulation ).

      • If one examines earth history, we see that warmer periods were generally wetter, for the planet as a whole.
        How these modelers think they can determine average jet stream positions in a somewhat warmer world is very mysterious.
        Besides for that, they think they know that el nino years are usually wetter for CA, except for last year, when it was among the driest ever.
        And this year, when it was the wettest ever after the el nino had ended.
        It seems not to have occurred to them to simply recognize that weather is chaotic and random.
        Or that models that can and do say anything and everything are useless.

      • There most likely is a pattern and system to our weather and climate, but since we don’t yet know what it is you can’t model it.

      • I remember past WUWT posts pointing out prolonged dry periods in California in the past. As it turns out, they roughly coincided with the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Warm Period. It looks like global warming will increase rainfall worldwide and make the Earth as a whole greener, but that California, at least the southern half or two thirds, will buck that trend.

      • Climate models fail because they ignore the patterns in climate. Instead they hope that the patterns will emerge spontaneously if they include enough low level detail in the model.

        In effect climate science takes rocks and gravity and believes that if they include enough details the rings of Saturn will appear. But reality doesn’t work that way. The rings are not predicted by our models of gravity any more than future climate is predicted by climate models.

      • Quite simply we know the rings of Saturn exist, but complexity prevents us from modelling them realistically on a computer. It is the N-body problem on steroids. Computationally you face the same problem with climate. You can compute what might happen in the future, but it takes the computer longer to come up with an accurate answer than if you simply waited for the future.

        Nature models the future quicker than can be done by the fastest computer if you are interested in accuracy.

      • It seems to me that the hydrological system is the main mechanism for controlling the earth’s temperature through a negative feedback system.

        Warmer, melts the arctic ice, creates more available water to absorb heat, increased evaporate, and release of heat at top of atmosphere. At same time, more clouds form, increasing reflection of SW radiation.

        Colder, freezes water at north pole, removing water thus decreasing heat absorption, and decreasing evaporation and release of heat at TOA. Less cloud formation, less reflection of SW radiation.

        I never hear much about the role of CO2 functioning as Water Vapor. The Adiabetic theory claims CO2 acts just like water …. absorbing heat at surface, rising in the atmosphere, and releasing heat at TOA, where it goes on to space. But then again, given the differences in ppm of water vapor and CO2, I can’t see that CO2 would play much of a major role.

      • “There most likely is a pattern and system to our weather and climate”

        Yes, there are patterns and systems.
        And also strong elements of randomness, on scales large and small.
        If there is more evaporation from the oceans, there will be more rain falling on the Earth.
        Looking back at reconstructions of wet years and dry years for CA over the past few thousand years, we see a few very long droughts, some longer wet periods, but little evidence of any trends that match up with world wise temperature trends.
        Some long droughts coincided with warmer times, and some with colder times.
        The LIA appears to have had few long periods of drought, and this extended through the end of the LIA into the modern warm period.
        Is it cycles superimposed on overall randomness, or randomness superimposed on cycles?
        May both?
        Or maybe long terms rainfall trends of many centuries do not match up well with long term temperature trends on this scale.

        BTW, I think that dendrochronology is fairly accurate at identifying wet and dry years…and for temperature trends…not so much.

    • Now we have “climate scientists” saying drier….wetter

      No matter what happens, they can point to one and say “see we were right”…
      ….isn’t that the way it works

      • Yes. And when you point out that there was a contradicting prediction,
        – It never happened
        – It was not scientists saying so
        – It was not widespread
        – Changing opinion based on fact is scientific
        – I’m progressive, and you are regressive

        There is nothing the climate change apparatus could not predict, and no failed prediction can falsify the theory which is amorphous enough.

        I should not be very far from truth when I predict that the future California could be warmer, cooler, wetter, drier, stormier, calmer, or more extreme. Note the ‘could’ that works as an out-of-jail card. If you don’t act now, you’re a deniér.

    • Not always. Measured temperatures show their models predict to o much warming. However, no one can ignore $200,000,000 in repairs to Oroville Dam which overflowed for the first time in history. It resulted in evacuations and claims of looming extensive loss of life (which did NOT occur, but alarmists are everywhere). All reservoirs not being drained for repairs and upgrades are at historic levels. All ski lifts are operating at Mammoth Mountain today (8 July), with tons of people on their slopes. That’s hard to hide. Temperatures are easy to hide – just change the data. Do you really remember what the temperature was a week ago? No, but it is still irritating to have to detour TODAY around flooded streets in the Reno area, with clever new barriers along other roadways to keep them viable.
      Sorry – went off the deep end. They wan’t change the warming meme. They will change all other elements that are easy for any to see as fast as they need to, with no embarrassment at all over the fact that the last position was held by 97% of scientists – and all respectable, non-loony scientists.

    • It appears these studies are based the previous year’s weather. All you need for a 83 year straight line is 2 points.

  2. Any person predicting growth to 40% more DJF rainfall for central California to 2100 has, in my opinion, an unbalanced appreciation of how fast annual weather can change. One can accept a 40% DJF increase in an occasional year, with occasional 40% falls as well, but not in all DJFs growing to this succession. Geoff

  3. If what many people predict comes about – due to the sun’s inactivity – California will get a tiny bit colder and a lot more drier. We will see. If we live long enough.

    • I predict it will realise one or more of the possibilities and if the latter I can affirm with complete confidence it will be either a sequential or simultaneous result. .

    • Based on careful study of the past fed into a super computer and then reversed, I could, might, probably, prove beyond any doubt that the weather will (oh God help us!), be variable in ways that will be as bad as possible everywhere! Where is the grant application?

    • I sure can’t disagree with Heller’s conclusion, to wit:

      Excerpted quoting of James Delingpole commentary

      In fact, says Heller, Greenland has gained a near record amount of ice this year, and the ice is melting very slowly.

      It’s hard not to agree with his conclusion:

      Climate science is not a science. It is a criminal venture intended to extort money from the public. Whatever they are doing, has nothing to do with science.

      http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/07/07/delingpole-record-breaking-cold-in-greenland-alarmists-look-an-arctic-squirrel/

      • Some people seem to blanch when anyone speaks forcefully about what is going on. They think we should all be very polite all the time.
        Apparently even if it means avoiding frank and honest assessments.
        Calm and polite does not come through to people caught up in the lies of panic mongers.
        There are a lot of people who know what is going on but will not even give voice to an opinion, fearing being thought poorly of by the warmista establishment.
        Sadly…many are cowed into silence or near silence.
        Happily some are not.

      • They think we should all be very polite all the time.
        Apparently even if it means avoiding frank and honest assessments.

        Right on, Menicholas, and me thinks that is exactly why the actions of our elected member to Congress have degenerated to a point of “not return” and rampant dishonesty and self interest.

  4. When I was a boy someone older and wiser explained to me that simply because someone predicts it will happen, doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen.

    The predictions are no indicators of real world events, whether you choose to believe them or not.

      • Yup! You want certainty- bet on grant approvals or corrupt politicians. Or sadly nowadays, scientists.

    • Predictions have valuable uses, especially in investing. A broker calls 1000 people. He tells 500 of them that his models show gold is going up in the next year. If you don’t want to invest with him now, mark it on your calendar – he’ll call back and show you he was right. He tells the other 500 that gold is going down in the next year.
      At the end of the year, gold went up or down. He calls the 250 of the 500 people whom he gave the right answer to, and tells them his models show gold is going up in the next year. invest now – they have proof that he was right. He tells the other 250 people that gold is going down.
      At the beginning of the third year, he now has 125 people that have seen him correctly call the gold market for two years! Many to most of them will be willing to dump huge money on this broker. He is truly a guru.
      This is a real scheme – not of my making. It takes some time, but carries huge profits for a broker who uses it.

  5. Rainfall is projected to increase by 22% in the global warming theory. This is based on the Clausius Clapeyron relation which says that water vapor and precipitation and evaporation should increase by 7.0% per 1.0C increase in temperatures.

    3.0C of warming and all three components of the water cycle go up by 22.0%. All of the climate models build in this projection at essentially these numbers. So far, however, there is only a minimal increase in water vapor which means something else is going on.

      • Yes, the weather has actually gotten milder, not more extreme.

        The CAGW promoters are describing a fantasy world of extreme weather that is nowhere to be found.

      • I wonder why the satellites data charts and maps do not have trends separated out by max and min temps.
        Giving an average obscures much.
        If nights are less cool, and winters less cold, but day time and summer stay nearly the same…this shows up as warming, and the headlines blare that we are burning up.

      • Giving an average obscures much.

        excellent observation. A real reporter would ask the same question – except that I doubt they have the mathematical training to understand that. Besides, most of them are too lazy.

  6. It is a testament to the power of science that they were able to figure out how to liquefy the permanent and ever deepening drought.

  7. Why should model projections be trusted when predicting something good if we don’t trust them when they predict something bad? Bias?

  8. … everyone who studies the El Nino/La Nina (ENSO) phenomenon comes to a somewhat different conceptual understanding … link

    It isn’t a given that El Ninos will become more frequent if the climate warms due to anthropogenic CO2. Allen et al seem to have the causality reversed. El Nino causes a warmer atmosphere. Where’s the evidence that a warmer atmosphere causes El Nino? As Dr. Spencer points out, we really don’t understand the causes of El Nino and La Nina that well.

    Dr. Spencer thinks the formation of El Nino and La Nina is related to cloud cover. Some folks think cloud cover is related to cosmic ray bombardment. They also contend that cosmic ray bombardment is related to solar activity … and so on and so forth.

    • “It isn’t a given that El Ninos will become more frequent if the climate warms due to anthropogenic CO2. Allen et al seem to have the causality reversed. El Nino causes a warmer atmosphere. Where’s the evidence that a warmer atmosphere causes El Nino?”

      I too question where this heating is coming from. Here’s the quote from the article:

      “They found that warming in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, an area about 2,500 miles east of the international date line, is the main reason for the predicted increase in precipitation levels.”

      They don’t say this is due to El Nino, so they must be saying it is due to atmospheric heating and as Bob says, where’s the evidence for that?

  9. I doubt these guys a clue, but even if they don’t they’ve got a fair chance of being right by pure chance. For the sake of the folks living in California, let’s hope they are right.

  10. “Another benefit of warming”

    Another study stating what will happen IF the world is warming.

    And if the world doesn’t warm???? – A lot of people wasting their lives away on pointless “science” papers.

    • Exactly.
      It seems very likely we will have decades of cooling at some point this century, perhaps very soon and perhaps beginning now.
      And when that happens, what next?
      Will the insanity end?

      • And when that happens, what next?
        Will the insanity end?

        The insanity will not end. It will be replaced by the next bogeyman.

  11. Consensus continues unabated.
    California will be wetter AND it will be drier.
    The wets and the drys probably make up 97% of scientists, hence it is consensus.

  12. I had people tell me, and they were dead serious, that we were in for a permanent drought. Why? Because of all the stupid news articles and people on TV telling them so.
    There is no end to the convoluted tactics of academia and pundits.

    • Yeah, I love how this article’s authors excuse the scaremongering CAGW proponents have done in the past about the coming California droughts. Here’s a quote from the article:

      “Most previous research emphasized uncertainty with regards to future precipitation levels in California, but the overall thought was California would become drier with continued climate change,” said Robert Allen, an associate professor at UC Riverside and one of the authors of the paper.”

      “Most previous research emphasized uncertainty with regards to future precipitation levels in California” is not my recollection of events. Drought doom-and-gloom into the distant future, is the way I recall previous predictions of California’s climate by CAGW promoters. They were not uncertain at all.

      • The uncertainty sentence goes at the very bottom of the study, After chapter and verse on the looming disaster. There’s actually a very common plotline. First they make a statement that climate change threatens …..insert big picture apple pie issue here…….Then comes more mights and maybe than you ever saw in one place in your life. After you go take a valium and you’re not really focusing, comes the itty-bitty uncertainty sentence.Telltale signs of propaganda!

  13. Our persistent inability to understand the faultless logic of the climatistas is likely due to our fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of flexible timelines. We seem to be stuck on the idea that time only flows in one direction, but in the new climate science it goes forwards, backwards, left, right, upside down and inside out so that research findings are often published prospectively but many years after events they predicted.

  14. This can’t be true. After all, the science has already been settled. The science can’t change. Can it?

    No one can think that we haven’t always been at war with Eastasia.

  15. “analyzed 38 climate models developed around the world to reach their conclusions.”

    Say no more. I will take the under.

  16. No no no. Climate “science” predicts droughtier droughts and floodier floods. Because of man’s evil CO2, all weather, even cold and snow will become more extreme. It’s all basic science, as laid down over a century ago, and as shown by powerful computers using state-of-the-art GCMs. 97% of all scientists agree.
    Geez.

  17. Cooler/Warmer
    Wetter/Drier
    Windier/Calmer
    More snow/less snow.
    What can’t climate models predict?
    And all complete BS.

  18. If we look at this as a propaganda war we can view things through a different lens.
    Could it be that behind the scenes of the Global Warming, Climate Change, Extreme Weather brigade, you know the folks that claim that ‘whatever happens is down to ‘carbon’ so send us your money’, that we might find people that actually have a reasonably good idea of how climate actually works and are aware of the role of the Sun? (And probably read WUWT for light entertainment.)
    If so might they not start predicting some of the things we are likely to see in the event of a Maunder Minimum type event although leaving out obvious give-aways like it getting frightfully cold in some regions some of the time?
    After all looking at the history of the last one there were heatwaves, droughts (like 2 years of drought in India) and of course floods. In other words ‘extreme weather’.
    If I’m right when it all starts happening they will say ‘I told you so’ now send us even more money! If you don’t you know it will only get worse.
    I read New Scientist which is a safe space for them. There they are showing no signs of giving up on the idea that it is all down to humans in the ‘west’ using fossil fuels. (Chinese ‘carbon’ is ‘special’ just like the useful idiots that hang on their every word because 99% of ‘scientists’ agree.) I have noticed however that lately they are spending less time on the carbon dioxide part of their meme. Now they appear to just carry on regardless with ‘climate change etc.’ as if they are dealing with something like Newton’s 2nd law, something that everyone takes as a given, leaving their followers to accept whatever they say to explain what people see when they look out of the window.

  19. Figure out how to forecast the next month accurately first then work your way out .
    Models are … well models . When people can predict sun spot activity , volcano eruptions
    changes in ocean current patterns maybe we will have a chance to improve the climate change batting average . Till then predictions are virtually meaningless mud thrown at a wall .

    Thank goodness it’s currently in a long term warming cycle . “Settled science ” complete BS by climate capitalists and political globalists . Mr . Trump was right to drop the Paris charade.

    When Mr . Trump has America firing on all cylinders other G20 countries are going to be wondering why they peed away billions and wasted their time in a foolish bid to set the worlds thermostat.

    Mr Trump is the Road Runner and the other clowns are a gang of Yosemite Sam’s .

    • Thanks for that link, Michael.

      You were right, it was good for a laugh. Here’s a humorous except:

      “Why does it matter if climate change is playing a role in the Western drought? As one top researcher on the climate-drought link reconfirmed with me this week, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999.” If his and other projections are correct, then there may be no greater tasks facing humanity than 1) working to slash carbon pollution and avoid the worst climate impact scenarios and 2) figuring out how to feed nine billion people by mid-century in a Dust-Bowl-ifying world.”

      end excerpt

      I don’t know about you, but there’s not a dustbowl to be seen anywhere, as far as I can see. Today’s weather is some of the mildest of my lifetime, and I’m not hearing many weather horror stories from other parts of the world.

      Go back to the 1930’s and check the newspaper headlines and you will find real climate disasters being reported from all over the world during those dustbowl years. Nothing like the mild, benign weather we have today.

      The promoters of CAGW are living in a false reality of extreme weather where there is no extreme weather to be seen. And they get paid to do this. Unbelievable.

    • I don’t know if it will get better, but it’s still raining in Oklahoma in July which is slightly unusual (and we love it), and the temperatures are not too hot, either.

      A real hot summer in the U.S. is fast running out of time to get started. The date when the summer heat usually breaks is in the middle of August, so I would expect we won’t have a serious heatwave this summer, although that doesn’t mean it won’t get hot for a few weeks in different locations, but to build up a big heatwave takes a high pressure system sitting fairly stationary over a spot on Earth, and also depends on the moisture in the ground underneath the high.

      The moisture prevents the heat from building up too high, although the additional humidity is as hard or harder on humans, than a higher heat at a lower humidity.

      So a high pressure system will have to set up and start heating us up, and then it will take a few weeks to evaporate the moisture out of the ground, and then the high heat can really start to build up, but in this year’s case, the high heat isn’t going to have much time to build up before the season changes.

      I have seen years where the high pressure set up early in the year like about March and then hung around clear through the fall, went away for a few months, and then was back in the early spring again the next year, and things really heated up during that next summer.

      So a high pressure system hanging around for a few weeks is inconvenience, but is not the worst that Mother Nature can deal out to us in the summertime (the 2010 heatwave was extremely hot, but it’s been mild since then). Sometimes the high heat can go on for months. Or at least in the past this was the case. But that won’t be the case this year. :)

  20. If that is what is projected then that is what will happen. Most of us in Southern California do not need to worry because most of our water comes from Northern California or out of state. Desalination plants is another option. In general we would be safest here in Southern California if we reduced our population.

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