As I interviewed water experts and crafted this story for UC Berkeley's Breakthroughs magazine, outside my window unprecedented storms were dumping rivers of rain into my courtyard. It was a visceral, and humbling, reminder that talking about water and climate change is no longer just academic -- it's the weather report. But the implications of a changed water cycle run deep, and the connections, complexities, and data these scientists point to can inform good decision-making, even as the world changes.
This winter’s explosive rainfall events brought weeks of torrential atmospheric river storms to California, yet many of the state’s reservoirs remained below annual averages. “We are in a flood emergency while we still have an active drought emergency,” Karla Nemeth, director of California’s Department of Water Resources, told the Washington Post in January. “That pretty much says it all about the new normal we have with climate change.” That new normal is a more intense water cycle, with wetter wet periods and longer, drier droughts....“Climate change is not just simple warming,” says [professor] Dennis Baldocchi. “It’s the timing of the rains. It’s the amount of warming when it’s warm.” Those changes in variation affect how water comes, goes, and moves through entire ecosystems. Read More.