[WaPo] Study: California drought is the most severe in at least 1,200 years

December 7, 2014

 

A warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif.  (AP / Rich Pedroncelli)

A warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. (AP / Rich Pedroncelli)

[THE WASHINGTON POST]

The current drought in California is the worst the state has seen in at least 1,200 years, according to a recent study published by the American Geophysical Union.

Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Minnesota reconstructed California’s temperature and precipitation history back to 800 A.D. using tree ring data. Hidden in this millennium of data they found as many as 66 dry periods of at least three to nine years. In the entire 1,200 year period they studied, there were only three droughts that were similar in nature to the current drought.

Though none have been as severe as what California has seen in the three years since 2012. Not even the historic droughts of the late 1970s, nor the late 1980s. The study also found that 2014 was the worst single drought year in the past 1,200 years, and that approximately 44 percent of California’s 3-year droughts have gone on to last another year, or longer.

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