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Government Study: Natural Causes, Not Climate Change, Led To California Drought

California Drought
(Photo : Flickr / docentjoyce / CC) NOAA said that the drought in California was caused by natural weather patterns.

A recent report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the drought California is currently experiencing is caused by natural occurrences and not by the effects of global warming, Live Science reported.

The study, which was authored by researchers from NASA, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and Columbia University, explained that natural weather patterns have prevented rain clouds from developing in the region.

According to the researchers, a high pressure system over the West Coast was formed due to the cool temperatures brought in by a La Niña weather phenomenon in 2011. This then served as a roadblock that prevented storm clouds from entering California, Live Science reported.

Richard Seager, a professor at Caifornia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and the study's lead author, said that the factors behind California's historic drought occur naturally. This means that the same phenomenon will appear again in the future.

"It's important to note that California's drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state," he wrote in the report. "In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state's climate record, and it's a safe bet that a similar event will happen again."

The report's co-author Marty Hoerling stated that the study does not aim to question the existence of climate change. Instead, it explains how the drought in California was caused by natural weather patterns.

"There is no question global warming continues to unfold," he wrote. "The three-year drought is not related to the overall warming, but [droughts in California] are something that happens time and time again."

After NOAA released its findings, the organization was criticized by meteorological experts for not taking into account the obvious effects of climate change in California.

"The authors of the new report would really have us believe that [it's] merely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the impact of human-caused climate change?" Michael Mann, a meteorologist from Penn State wrote in an article published by the Huffington Post.

Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said in a statement that the report from NOAA missed vital points connecting global warming to droughts, according to the Washington Post.

"[The report] completely misses any discussion of evatranspiration and the increased drying associated with global warming," he stated.

"In a drought, where there is an absence of precipitation, it is easily demonstrated that the extra heat from global warming - the increasing heating from increased greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide - enhances drying, increases risk of heat waves, and greatly increases the risk of wildfire to a significant degree," he added.

Tags California Drought, Global Warming, Nation News

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