Scientists: California drought is worst in 1,200 years

If there were any doubts about the severity of this year’s drought in California, it appears two climate scientists just put them to rest.

According to an article from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Daniel Griffin of the University of Minnesota and Kevin Anchukaitis of Woods Hole say their research shows it’s the state’s worst drought in 1,200 years. 

Map courtesy The National Drought Mitigation Center (
Map courtesy The National Drought Mitigation Center (

To find out just how bad it’s been, the article says, the pair collected tree-ring samples from blue oaks in the southern and central regions of the state. The magazine quotes Griffin as saying “California’s old blue oaks are as close to nature’s rain gauges as we get.” The trees’ rings show yearly moisture fluctuations clearly.

The duo used 2014 climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), then used the blue oaks to reconstruct rainfall all the way to the 13th century. Using data from other sources, they calculated the drought’s severity by combining information on rainfall and soil moisture over the past 1,000 years. What they discovered was that the record heat played a big role in compounding the drought’s effects.

The scientists say their work shows that drought-stricken areas are highly likely to experience even worse droughts as climate change makes the world warmer.

It’s a troubling conclusion that makes it very clear that water conservation needs to be a priority no matter where you live.

 To read the full article, click here.