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Environment & Science

California Drought News: Fewer fish, fewer jobs, more enforcement



Tricolored blackbirds are among the species further threatened by California's drought and water management policies, says one prominent scientist at UC Davis.
Tricolored blackbirds are among the species further threatened by California's drought and water management policies, says one prominent scientist at UC Davis.
Alan Vernon/Flickr

Monday's news starts with Big Science and ends with Big Brother:

The new study blames an unusual "dipole," a combination of a strong Western high pressure ridge and deep Great Lakes low pressure trough. That dipole is linked to a recently found precursor to El Nino, the world-weather changing phenomenon. And that precursor itself seems amplified by a build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the study says. It's like a complex game of weather dominos that starts with cold water off China and ends with a devastating drought and memorable winter in the United States, said study author Simon Wang, a Utah State University climate scientist.

The study's a part of "an offshoot of a growing and still not completely accepted subfield of climate research," and outside researchers remain cautious about its findings. On to the rest of the roundup:

“The problems created by the drought are just a harbinger of things to come,” said Peter Moyle, a professor at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, which hosted a daylong Capitol summit Friday on economic and environmental costs of the drought. Native fish are able to weather natural drought years, but the development of the state’s water system has created the equivalent of perpetual drought conditions for many species, he said.
In Mendota, where about half of the 11,000 residents are in families living below the federal poverty line, the jobless rate stood at 37 percent as of the last count in March, according to state data. The mayor of Mendota suggested that unemployment could hit 50 percent by summer as the effects of the drought fully play out - a level higher than what was seen during the recent recession.

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