Sunday, September 7, 2014

California: The Last 200 Years Were The Happy Time For Weather, Get Ready For A Return to The West Without Water

The West Without Water: An Interview with Dr. B. Lynn Ingram
Dr. B. Lynn Ingram is a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, California. The primary goal of her research is to assess how climates and environments have changed over the past several thousand years based on the geochemical and sedimentologic analysis of aquatic sediments and archaeological deposits, with a particular focus on the US West.
She is the co-author of “The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow” together with Dr. Frances Malamud-Roam, which received great reviews.
In this interview, Dr. Ingram shares her thoughts on the current drought in the US Southwest within the larger climate record and potential implications for the future.

E. Tavares: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. Your research focuses on long-range geoclimatic trends using a broad sample of historical records. In this sense, “The West without Water”, which we vividly recommend reading, provides a very grounded perspective on the weather outlook for the US Southwest going forward. So let’s start there. What prompted you to write this book?
L. Ingram: My co-author and I decided to write this book because our findings, and those of our colleagues, were all showing that over the past several thousand years, California and the West have experienced extremes in climate that we have not seen in modern history - the past 150 years or so. Floods and droughts far more catastrophic than we can even imagine. We felt it was important to bring these findings to the attention of the broader public, as these events tend to repeat themselves. So we need to prepare, just as we prepare for large earthquakes in California.

ET: When you say “West”, which regions are you referring to?
LI: In the book we focus on the climate history of California and the Southwest, but also bring in examples and comparisons with other western states as appropriate (such as Oregon and Washington, Nevada, Utah, etc.), as the entire region experiences similar storms and is controlled by similar climate that originates in the Pacific Ocean.

ET: What type of evidence have you used in reaching your conclusions? How accurate are these records?
LI: In the book we bring together many lines of evidence, ranging from tree-ring records to sediment cored from beneath lakes, estuaries, and the ocean. Paleoclimatologists – those that study past climate change using geologic evidence – study various aspects of these cores, including the fossils in them, the chemistry of the fossils and the sediments, and pollen and charcoal remains. The charcoal provides evidence about past wildfires. The archaeological record also contains important clues about past climate and environments and how they impacted human populations.

ET: Can you walk us through some of the major climatic events of the past thousand years in that part of the US? How unusual was the 20 century in that context?
LI: We had a relatively dry period during the Medieval Warm Period, 900-1400AD. There were several prolonged periods of drought that lasted decades to over a century during that time. That period was followed by a cooler, wetter period (the Little Ice Age) that continued until the 19 century. However, the tree-ring records suggest that the 20 century was unusually wet, meaning we had fewer droughts on average than the previous 1000 years.

ET: Based on what you just described, what the current drought may be telling us is that we could be seeing the start of a decadal “mean reversion” to much drier conditions going forward. Is this correct?
LI: Yes – actually the past decade in California and the West has been pretty dry, and the concern is that these climate conditions could continue for several more decades. We've seen these broader cycles of wet-dry in the past....MORE
Submitted by Erico Matias Tavares of Sinclair & Co. I believe, if I'm reading this right, he'll be pitching opportunistically timed water related privately placed investments.
I don't know him, I know of  Professor Ingram. See Why state’s water woes could be just beginning.
HT: ZeroHedge