California’s Epic 21st Century Drought - Where Are We at and Where Do We Go from Here?

Monday, 14 December 2015: 08:15
2022-2024 (Moscone West)
Michael Anderson, California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento, CA, United States, Michael D Dettinger, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, Kelly T Redmond, Desert Research Institute Reno, Western Regional Climate Center, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Reno, NV, United States and Daniel R Cayan, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
California’s current drought has spanned four years and has included many notable records for precipitation, snowpack, runoff, and temperature. Indeed the 21st century in California is already notable for the warm and dry conditions that have transpired. Expected impacts of climate change including greater variability, warmer temperatures, and more precipitation falling as rain than snow seem to be evident in the current drought. As such, can current conditions like the 2015 record low snowpack and its associated precipitation distribution be used as an object lesson of what may lie ahead for California in the 21st century with climate change? Through an examination of various observed records, perspective is provided on the current drought as well as the 21st century so far with comparisons to past events including the paleo-record. Looking ahead using information ranging from seasonal forecasts to climate projections, thoughts are provided on what lies ahead for California and what knowledge gaps inhibit adaptive planning and operational response.