Friday, February 14, 2014

#45 / That Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

I celebrated the rain when it came last week. I will celebrate it again, whenever it returns. In the meantime, California is facing the worst drought in recorded history, and the blame, it appears, comes from a "ridiculously resilient ridge" of atmospheric high pressure off the West Coast, deflecting storm systems away from California and the other western states. The picture above, of the snowpack in the Sierra, as of January 3rd, should let us know we have a problem. 

I learned a lot at the 10th Annual Water Law Symposium held last weekend at Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco. Among other things, I learned that global warming models, derived quite a few years ago, predicted that with the melting of ice in the Arctic a high-pressure ridge would develop exactly where that "ridiculously resilient ridge" is now located. In other words, while our historic drought may or may not be totally dependent on global warming, global warming has played an important part in our current water woes.

Perhaps it will all work out. Maybe that "ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure air will dissipate and disappear. Maybe we have nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, however "ridiculous" it might seem, it may be that this "resilient ridge" is now going to be a permanent feature of the World of Nature, in our neighborhood. If that turns out to be true, the picture above may reflect a "big" snow season at Lake Tahoe. 


I am not laughing. 

Image Credit:

1 comment:

  1. I'm not familiar with this global climate model projection. (Models do not predict, they can only project from current conditions possible scenarios for later confirmation by observation.)

    Do you have the citation for this claim?

    The Pacific high pressure ridge is known historically as a function of ENSO variability. It can never become a permanent feature of the world of nature, as Arctic ice is returning quickly and will never (in human time scale) disappear completely.


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