California's Future Likely Includes More Droughts and Floods

by | Oct 27, 2015

On the left, La Niña cools off the ocean surface (greens and blues) in winter 1988. On the right, El Niño warms the ocean surface (oranges and reds) in winter 1997. (Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

On the left, La Niña cools off the ocean surface (greens and blues) in winter 1988. On the right, El Niño warms the ocean surface (oranges and reds) in winter 1997. (Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

A study published in Nature Communications suggests that  El Niño and La Niña weather patterns could lead to at least a doubling of extreme droughts and floods in California later this century. The study also predicts more-frequent extreme weather events.

A better understanding of what gives rise to El Niño and La Niña”together known as El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)”might help California predict and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the coming century.

Wet and dry years in California are linked to El Niño and La Niña. That relationship is getting stronger, said atmospheric scientist Jin-Ho Yoon of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Our study shows that ENSO will be exhibiting increasing control over California weather.

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