Even with the stringent water-conservation measures imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, Californians have to wonder: How much longer will this go on?
The answer could be a whole a lot longer, perhaps even centuries, due to the effects of rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and the resulting climate change. Those dire findings are revealed in a newly-published article in Scientific Reports, which analyzed the role that climate has played in California's history of drought.
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In the study, researchers looked at how climate contributed to drought and periods of dryness in California, stretching back 10,000 years into prehistoric times. They dug up a 10-foot deep core of sediment taken from the bottom from Kirman Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is known for its sensitivity to climate fluctuations.
Material in the sample's layers -- such as charcoal deposits that remain from ancient forest fires, fossilized pollen, algae and mollusk shells -- enabled them to reconstruct a climate timeline that stretches back 10,000 years.
Historically, natural phenomena such as sun spots, a slightly different earth orbit and a decrease in volcanic activity have intermittently warmed California through a process called radiative forcing. But in modern times, those have been joined by a new force: greenhouse gases generated by the burning of fossil fuels and other human sources.
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