A team of researchers working with the University of California, Merced now wish to draw attention to the fact that, although the Pacific Ocean is not warm enough to foster the formation of major storms such as hurricane Sandy, this does not mean that this state will not be affected by extreme weather manifestations.
Roger Bales, a scientist working with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute explains that, for the time being, most of the storms the people inhabiting the state in California have to face on a regular basis are snowstorms.
However, an increase in average global temperatures can turn these snowstorms into rain. Such a shift in environmental conditions will up the possibility for floods, and the state's water resources stand to also be affected.
As he puts it, “Most of our biggest storms are snow storms, which builds up snowpack in the mountains. The snowpack is a reservoir, storing water that will be used throughout the year across the state.”
“But if you warm the climate, those storms become rain events – there's more immediate runoff, less water storage, and the rain will actually melt some of the existing snowpack.”
Apparently, an increase in average global temperatures also ups the chances for wildfires to occur, and the state of California is expected to also witness an increase in the number of fires that manifest themselves in various regions.
These researchers wish to emphasize that, although one cannot go as far as to link an isolated storm or wildfire event to climate change, the fact remains that global weather patterns are indeed changing, and this fact can only be attributed to an increase in ocean temperatures, Eurek! Alert explains.
“A strong El Niño means Northern California and the Pacific Northwest have a greater chance of below-normal precipitation, Southern California and the Southwest have a greater chance of above-average precipitation, and the center of the state has equal chances of either.”
“But with a weak El Niño or neutral condition, either above or below normal conditions could prevail across the state,” Roger Bales explains.