Friday July 1, 2022

Los Angeles Times

Unprecedented dryness across the western United States is meeting with increasingly warm temperatures to create climate conditions so extreme that the landscape of California could permanently and profoundly change, a growing number of scientists say.

The Golden State’s great drying has already begun to reduce snowpack, worsen wildfires and dry out soils, and researchers say that trend will likely continue, along with the widespread loss of trees and other significant shifts.

Some say what’s in store for the state could be akin to the conditions that drove people thousands of years ago to abandon thriving cities in the Southwest and other arid parts of the world as severe drought contributed to crop failures and the crumbling of social norms.

But unlike in those ancient civilizations, California’s current transformation is being accelerated by carbon emissions and human-caused climate change, which is creating not only longer and more severe droughts, but also hotter ones. It’s a process known as aridification, and many say it’s here to stay.

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