California likely to see more extreme flooding and drought, UCSD study says

SAN DIEGO -- California is likely to see more extreme weather conditions in the future, according to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Research Meteorologist Alexander Gershunov said flooding, drought, wildfires and mudslides could become more intense in the state because of atmospheric rivers.

“An atmospheric river transports about two and a half times the Amazon river, which is the biggest river in the world,” Gershunov said.

Researchers like himself predict that in the future we will see fewer, but much larger storms.

“These are typically more extreme and warmer storms. They’re associated with runoff, less snow pack and more challenges in terms of water resource management and flood management,” Gershunov said.

Gershunov explained longer stretches without rain may lead to later and longer wildfire seasons.

“Less frequent precipitation, especially in the fall, will spell dry vegetation more likely to persist into the winter when the Santa Ana wind season peaks and so you’re more likely to get events like the Thomas Fire which burned through most of December and was actually put out by an atmospheric river in January,” Gershunov said.

When these atmospheric rivers pour water over scorched land, that leads to mudslides.

Scientists say they have been and are working hard to project and prepare for whats to come.

“This is the kind of information, basically the nitty gritty of climate change and what it means for our local water resources,” Gershunov said.

Gershunov said this trend we are already seeing could last at least through this century.

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