California water supply dream

sunshine hours

I’m dreaming of a wet California …

“With full reservoirs and a dense snowpack, this year is practically a California water supply dream,” California DWR Director Karla Nemeth said April 2, 2019, after latest Sierra snowpack measurement.

California state officials made their monthly snowpack measurement at Phillips Station in the Sierra and confirmed there will be no lack of water this year.

Snowpack at the station was at 200% of average while statewide snowpack is 162% of average.

“This is great news for this year’s water supply, but water conservation remains a way of life in California, rain or shine,” California Department of Water Resources said.

The state has experienced more than 30 atmospheric rivers since the start of the water year, six in February alone, and statewide snow water equivalent has nearly tripled since February 1, officials said.

Phillips Station now stands at 106.5 inches (270.5 cm) of snow…

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The Little Ice Age – Back to the Future

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

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What’s Natural

By Jim Steele

Extreme scientists and politicians warn we will suffer catastrophic climate change if the earth’s average temperature rises 2.7°F above the Little Ice Age average. They claim we are in a climate crisis because average temperature has already warmed by 1.5°F since 1850 AD. Guided by climate fear, politicians fund whacky engineering schemes to shade the earth with mirrors or aerosols to lower temperatures. But the cooler Little Ice Age endured a much more disastrous climate.

The Little Ice Age coincides with the pre-industrial period. The Little Ice Age spanned a period from 1300 AD to 1850 AD, but the exact timing varies. It was a time of great droughts, retreating tree lines, and agricultural failures leading to massive global famines and rampant epidemics. Meanwhile advancing glaciers demolished European villages and farms and extensive sea ice blocked harbors and prevented trade.

Dr. Michael Mann who preaches dire predictions wrought by global warming described the Little Ice Age as a period of widespread “famine, disease, and increased child mortality in Europe during the 17th–19th century, probably related, at least in part, to colder temperatures and altered weather conditions.” In contrast to current models suggesting global warming will cause wild weather swings, Mann concluded “the Little Ice Age may have been more significant in terms of increased variability of the climate”. Indeed, historical documents from the Little Ice Age describe wild climate swings with extremely cold winters followed by very warm summers, and cold wet years followed by cold dry years.

A series of Little Ice Age droughts lasting several decades devastated Asia between the mid 1300s and 1400s. Resulting famines caused significant societal upheaval within India, China, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. Bad weather resulted in the Great Famine of 1315-1317 which decimated Europe causing extreme levels of crime, disease, mass death, cannibalism and infanticide. The North American tree-ring data reveal megadroughts lasting several decades during the cool 1500s. The Victorian Great Drought from 1876 to 1878 brought great suffering across much of the tropics with India devastated the most. More than 30 million people are thought to have died at this time from famine worldwide.

The Little Ice Age droughts and famines forced great societal upheaval, and the resulting climate change refugees were forced to seek better lands. But those movements also spread horrendous epidemics. Wild climate swings brought cold and dry weather to central Asia. That forced the Mongols to search for better grazing. As they invaded new territories they spread the Bubonic plague which had devastated parts of Asia earlier. In the 1300s the Mongols passed the plague to Italian merchant ships who then brought it to Europe where it quickly killed one third of Europe’s population. European explorers looking for new trade routes brought smallpox to the Americas, causing small native tribes to go extinct and decimating 25% to 50% of larger tribes. Introduced diseases rapidly reduced Mexico’s population from 30 million to 3 million.

By the 1700s a new killer began to dominate – accidental hypothermia. When indoor temperatures fall below 48°F for prolonged periods, the human body struggles to keep warm, setting off a series of reactions that causes stress and can result in heart attacks. As recently as the 1960s in Great Britain, 20,000 elderly and malnourished people who lacked central heating died from accidental hypothermia. As people with poor heating faced bouts of extreme cold in the 1700s, accidental hypothermia was rampant.

What caused the tragic climate changes of the Little Ice Age? Some scientists suggest lower solar output associated with periods of fewer sunspots. Increasing solar output then reversed the cooling and warmed the 20th century world. As solar output is now falling to the lows of the Little Ice Age, a natural experiment is now in progress testing that solar theory. However other scientists suggest it was rising CO2 that delivered the world from the Little Ice Age.

Increasing CO2 also has a beneficial fertilization effect that is greening the earth. The 20th century warming, whether natural or driven by rising CO2 concentrations, has lengthened the growing season. Famines are being eliminated. Tree-lines stopped retreating and trees are now reclaiming territory lost over the past 500 years. So why is it that now we face a climate crisis?

At the end of the 1300’s Great Famine and the Bubonic Plague epidemic, the earth sustained 350 million people. With today’s advances in technology and milder growing conditions, record high crop yields are now feeding a human population that ballooned to over 7.6 billion.

So, the notion that cooler times represent the “good old days” and we are now in a warmer climate crisis seems truly absurd.

Jim Steele is retired director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, SFSU

and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Natural climate processes overshadow recent human-induced Walker circulation trends

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Institute for Basic Science

Normal conditions (top), strengthening due to natural variability (middle) and weakening due to greenhouse warming (bottom). Black arrows represent horizontal and vertical winds with the shading on the background map illustrating ocean temperatures. Over the past few decades, natural variability has strengthened the Pacific Walker circulation leading to enhanced cooling in the equatorial central-to-eastern Pacific (middle). Climate models forced by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations simulate weakening of the Walker circulation (bottom). (Right) Temporal evolution of model-simulated Walker circulation trends, with the dark blue line and orange shading denoting anthropogenically-induced changes and the impact of natural processes, respectively. Credit IBS

Normal conditions (top), strengthening due to natural variability (middle) and weakening due to greenhouse warming (bottom). Black arrows represent horizontal and vertical winds with the shading on the background map illustrating ocean temperatures. Over the past few decades, natural variability has strengthened the Pacific Walker circulation leading to enhanced cooling in the equatorial central-to-eastern Pacific (middle). Climate models forced by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations simulate weakening of the Walker circulation (bottom). (Right) Temporal evolution of model-simulated Walker circulation trends, with the dark blue line and orange shading denoting anthropogenically-induced changes and the impact of natural processes, respectively. Credit IBS

A new study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that the recent intensification of the equatorial Pacific wind system, known as Walker Circulation, is unrelated to human influences and can be explained by natural processes. This result ends a long-standing debate on the drivers of an unprecedented atmospheric trend, which contributed to a three-fold acceleration of sea-level rise in the western tropical Pacific, as well as to the global warming hiatus.

Driven by the east-west sea surface temperature difference across the equatorial Pacific, the Walker circulation is one of the key features of the global atmospheric circulation. It is characterized by ascending motion over the Western Pacific and descending motion in the eastern equatorial Pacific. At the surface trade winds blow from east to west, causing upwelling of cold water along the equator. From the early 1990s to about 2013, this circulation has intensified dramatically, cooling the eastern equatorial Pacific and triggering shifts in global winds and rainfall (see Figure 1). These conditions further contributed to drying in California, exacerbating mega-drought conditions and impacting agriculture, water resources and wild fires. Given these widespread impacts on ecosystems and society, the recent Walker circulation trends have become subject of intense research.

In contrast to the observed strengthening, the majority of climate computer models simulates a gradual weakening of the Walker Circulation when forced by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations (see Figure 1). “The discrepancy between climate model projections and observed trends has led to speculations about the fidelity of the current generation of climate models and their representation of tropical climate processes”, said Eui-Seok Chung, researcher from the Center for Climate Physics, Institute for Basic Science, South Korea, and lead-author of the study.

To determine whether the observed changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation are due to natural climate processes or caused by human-induced climate change, scientists from South Korea, the United States and Germany came together to conduct one of the most comprehensive big-data analyses of recent atmospheric trends to date. “Using satellite data, improved surface observations and a large ensemble of climate model simulations, our results demonstrate that natural variability, rather than anthropogenic effects, were responsible for the recent strengthening of the Walker circulation”, said Prof. Axel Timmermann, Director of the IBS Center for Climate Physics at Pusan National University and co-author of this study.

In their integrated analysis, the researchers found that the satellite-inferred strengthening of the Walker circulation is substantially weaker than implied by other surface observations used in previous studies. “Putting surface observations in context with latest satellite products was a key element of our study”, said co-author Dr. Lei Shi from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in the United States.

Analyzing 61 different computer model simulations forced with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the authors showed that, although the average response is a Walker circulation weakening, there are substantial discrepancies amongst the individual model experiments, in particular when considering shorter-term trends. “We found that some models are even consistent with the observed changes in the tropical Pacific, in stark contrast to other computer experiments that exhibit more persistent weakening of the Walker circulation during the observational period”, said co-author Dr. Viju John from EUMETSAT in Germany. The authors were then able to tease apart what caused the spread in the computer model simulations.

Co-author Prof. Kyung-Ja Ha from the IBS Center for Climate Physics and Pusan National University explains “Natural climate variability, associated for instance with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation or the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation can account for a large part of diversity in simulated tropical climate trends”.

“The observed trends are not that unusual. In climate model simulations we can always find shorter-term periods of several decades that show similar trends to those inferred from the satellite data. However, in most cases, and when considering the century-scale response to global warming, these trends reverse their sign eventually”, said co-author Prof. Brian Soden from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, at the University of Miami, United States.

The study concludes that the observed strengthening of the Walker circulation from about 1990-2013 and its impact on western Pacific sea level, eastern Pacific cooling, drought in the Southwestern United States, was a naturally occurring phenomenon, which does not stand in contrast to the notion of projected anthropogenic climate change. Given the high levels of natural decadal variability in the tropical Pacific, it would take at least two more decades to detect unequivocally the human imprint on the Pacific Walker Circulation (see Figure 1, right panel).

California acknowledges government policy failures in wildfires – not nebulous “climate change” excuses

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

Articles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Orange County Register address Governor Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency to allow the state to waive environmental extremist laws and regulations that are needed so that Cal Fire can proceed with actions to clear dead trees, remove excessive undergrowth, thin out excessive tree growth and crowding, use prescribed fire, etc. to improve forest health and decrease Ca. wildfire risks.

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California Governor Brown erroneously claimed that scientifically unsupported and nebulous “climate change” was driving the states wildfires while ignoring decades of pleas from forest and fire fighting professionals to address failed government and regulatory policies which were allowing the build up of excessive fuel which was leading to more intense and dangerous wildfires as addressed in a WUWT article as follows:

“In October 18, 2015 L. A. Times article wildfire experts unsupportive of Brown’s position noted that:

“Today’s forest fires are indeed larger than those of the past, said National Park Service climate change scientist Patrick Gonzalez.

At a symposium sponsored by Brown’s administration, Gonzalez presented research attributing that trend to policies of fighting the fires, which create thick under layers of growth, rather than allowing them to burn.

“We are living right now with a legacy of unnatural fire suppression of approximately a century,” Gonzalez told attendees.”

This century long policy of fire suppression and its impact of Ca. wildfires is further reflected in a 2015 University of California Berkeley study which noted:

“National parks and other protected areas clearly provide an important function in removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it,” said Battles. “But we also know from previous research that a century of fire suppression has contributed to a potentially unsustainable buildup of vegetation. This buildup provides abundant fuel for fires that contribute to carbon emissions.”

Before this state of emergency action by Governor Newsom the state ignored the comprehensive Little Hoover Commission report of February 2017 that laid out in detail the failure of states forest management and environmental polices which were found to be driving the increased wildfire intensity and damage.

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Governor Newsom’s state of emergency declaration action is in accordance with recommendations contained in the most recent wildfire study by Cal Fire.

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Governor Browns flawed and politically contrived claim of “climate change” driven wildfires was never supported by scientific data which shows that California has a long history going back centuries of extensive and severe droughts and that recent droughts are in fact less severe than the state has experienced in the past.

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The Los Angeles Times article noted that some “experts” were in disagreement with the need for Governor Newsom to take these actions but the Governor rebutted these challenges as follows:.

“At the news conference, Newsom acknowledged the criticism, and rebutted it.

“Some people, you know, want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols,” the governor said. “But I’m going to push back on that. Some of these projects quite literally, not figuratively, could take two years to get done, or we could get them done in the next two months. That’s our choice.”

Finally California has begun to address reality in dealing with the state wildfire debacle by acknowledging its role in building this huge problem instead of continuing to make phony “climate change” excuses for these wildfires.

This action should never have taken so long to occur but instead should have been initiated many years ago.

Planet-Sized Experiments – we’ve already done the 2°C test

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

People often say that we’re heading into the unknown with regards to CO2 and the planet. They say we can’t know, for example, what a 2°C warming will do because we can’t do the experiment. This is seen as important because for unknown reasons, people have battened on to “2°C” as being the scary temperature rise that we’re told we have to avoid at all costs.

But actually, as it turns out, we have already done the experiment. Below I show the Berkeley Earth average surface temperature record for Europe. Europe is a good location to analyze, because some of the longest continuous temperature records are from Europe. In addition, there are a lot of stations in Europe that have been taking record for a long time. This gives us lots of good data.

So without further ado, here’s the record of the average European temperature.

Figure 1. Berkeley Earth average European temperature, 1743 – 2013. Red/yellow line is an 8-year Gaussian average. Horizontal red and blue lines are 2°C apart.

Temperatures were fairly steady until about the year 1890, when they began to rise. Note that this was BEFORE the large modern rise in CO2 … but I digress.

And from 1890 or so to 2013, temperatures in Europe rose by about 2°C. Which of course brings up the very important question …

We’ve done the 2°C experiment … so where are the climate catastrophes?

Seriously, folks, we’re supposed to be seeing all kinds of bad stuff. But none of it has happened. No cities gone underwater. No increase in heat waves or cold waves. No islands sinking into the ocean. No increase in hurricanes. No millions of climate refugees. The tragedies being pushed by the failed serial doomcasters for the last 30 years simply haven’t come to pass.

I mean, go figure … I went to Thermageddon and all I got was this lousy t-shirt …

In fact, here’s the truth about the effects of the warming …

Figure 2. Average annual climate-related (blue line) and non-climate-related (red line) deaths in natural disasters. Data from OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database

In just under a century, climate-related deaths, which are deaths from floods, droughts, storms, wildfires, and extreme temperatures, have dropped from just under half a million down to about twenty thousand … and during this same time, temperatures all over the globe have been warming.

So no, folks, there is no climate emergency. Despite children happily skipping class to march in lockstep to the alarmist drumbeat, climate is not the world’s biggest problem, or even in the top ten. Despite the pathetic importunings of “Beta” O’Rourke, this is not World War II redux. Despite Hollywood stars lecturing us as they board their private jets, there are much bigger issues for us to face.

The good news is, the people of the world know that the climate scare is not important. The UN polled almost ten million people as to what issues matter the most to them. The UN did their best to push the climate scare by putting that as the first choice on their ballot … but even with that, climate came in dead last, and by a long margin. Here is what the people of the world actually find important:

Figure 3. Results of the UN “My World” poll. Further analytic data here.

As you can see, there were sixteen categories. People put education, healthcare, and jobs at the top … and way down at the very bottom, “Action taken on climate change” came in at number sixteen.

In summary:

We’ve done the two degree Celsius experiment.

The lack of any climate-related catastrophes indicates that warming is generally either neutral or good for animal and plant life alike.

Climate related deaths are only about a twentieth of what they were a hundred years ago.

The people of the planet generally don’t see climate as an important issue. Fact Check: They are right.

===========================

Here, my gorgeous ex-fiancee and I are wandering on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We went and looked at Death Valley. It’s a couple hundred feet below sea level, and very, very dry. In the Valley, I saw that there was a temperature station at Stovepipe Wells. So I immediately looked for that essential accessory to any well-maintained temperature station … the air conditioner exhaust. Here you go, you can just see the air conditioner on the right side of this south-looking photo:

But what good is an air conditioner without some good old black heat-absorbing asphalt pavement to balance it out? So of course, they’ve provided that as well … here’s the view looking west. I’m not sure if this station is still in use, but any readings here would certainly be suspect.

Heck, if we’d parked our pickup truck facing outwards in the next stall to the left and revved the engine, we probably could have set a new high temperature record for this date …

Death Valley itself is stunningly stark, with the bones of the earth poking up through the skin …

Ah, dear friends, the world is full of wonders, far too many for any man to see all of them … keep your foot pressed firmly on the accelerator, time is the one thing that none of us have enough of. As Mad Tom o’ Bedlam sang,

With a host of furious fancies, whereof I am commander
With a sword of fire and a steed of air through the universe I wander
By a ghost of rags and shadows, I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world’s end … methinks it is no journey.

Today we’re at Boulder Creek, just east of the Sierras by Owens Lake … or Owens Ex-Lake, because all the water that used to fill the lake now waters gardens in LA.

However, the drought is broken in California, and some of the Sierra ski resorts have gotten forty or fifty feet of snow over the winter, so the east slope of the Sierras look like this where we are:

I am put in mind of what the poet said …

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

My very best to each one of you, sail on, sail beyond …

w.



HiFast Note:

Willis’ photos of the Stevenson screen were taken at the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station (36.608169, -117.144553)

Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station

The USCRN site ISWC1 is about 700m south (36.601914, -117.145068).

California Drought History

Sierra Foothill Commentary

During the last drought, I made about 85 posts on the issue, pointing out the drought history of the region was chaotic, with dry periods and wet periods, with some very long dry periods. In those posts, I supported the need for more dams to catch and store the feeble about of moisture collected during the dry periods, including the Centennial Dam Project.

This drought timeline tells the story of drought in the region;

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California is relatively drought-free right now, but if history is an indicator of the future we will have more drought.

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H/T to Watts Up With That for links to the Graphics.  

If you are interested in learning more about drought and flooding in the region, I recommend The West Without Water and books by Anthropologist David L. Stuart on the struggle of the Pueblo Peoples to survive in the South West. Our relatively wet period could…

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Warmer California winters will reduce Sierra Nevada snowpack

Jerry Brown’s myopic view of climate from 2016:

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.:  “California droughts are expected to be more frequent and persistent, as warmer winter temperatures driven by climate change reduce water held in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and result in drier soil conditions. Recognizing these new conditions, the executive order directs permanent changes to use water more wisely and efficiently, and prepare for more frequent, persistent periods of limited supply.”  9 May 2016.

Source via Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20160520060004/https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19408

[edit, photo added below from KOLO 8 Reno, 7 Mar 2019]:

No photo description available.

 

California’s Reservoirs Are Doing Well

sunshine hours

Most of the reservoir’s in California are well above the historical average percent.

But, if the Pineapple Express dumps a lot of rain it could be flood time.

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Disentangling California Drought

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Here is Jim Steele’s newest column article for the Tribune and 5 other Marin papers,~ctm

Pacifica Tribune column, January 16, 2019

What’s Natural?

Disentangling California Drought

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Devastating droughts are a great concern. Droughts disrupt ecosystems, agriculture, and drinking water supplies. Contrary to headlines suggesting we have only 12 years before descending into climate hell with more severe droughts, historically, Californians are not experiencing more severe droughts. Despite low stream flows and withering plants, there’s no agreement on how to best define drought. Different methods suggest different severities for the same drought. Thus, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent assessment, downgraded their ability to detect the causes of drought to “low confidence”.

Ocean circulation determines how much rain reaches the land. Each summer, California naturally experiences months of drought because storms carrying ocean moisture are blocked. Every few years, a rainy El Niño year alternates with drought producing La Niñas. But 20 years of more frequent La Niñas can cause 20 years of drought. To address natural precipitation shifts, California constructed ~1400 dams, storing water during wet years that can be released during drought years. Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir supplies about 25% of San Francisco’s drinking water and 17% of its electricity. Misguided attempts to remove its dam would be disastrous for humans with scant environmental benefits.

NOAA scientists analyzed California’s 2011-2014 drought concluding it was dominated by a La Niña and natural variability. In contrast, their models suggested any greenhouse contribution was “very small”. Similarly, drought-sensitive tree rings suggested the extremely low precipitation was not unprecedented nor “outside the range of natural variability”. For 1200 years, extremely low rainfall happens a few times every century.

However, because higher temperatures can theoretically increase evaporation and dry the land, some researchers define drought by calculating the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Despite using the same tree rings, the PDSI transformed a natural California drought into the worst in 1200 years, evoking global warming fears.

What to trust?

Most scientists agree the PDSI is biased towards worse droughts, because it assumes higher temperatures always dry the land. However, the opposite is also true! Without moisture to absorb heat, drier conditions produce higher temperatures. Studies using more accurate measurements than the PDSI find no increase in global droughts.

Before significant CO2 warming was possible, Dust Bowl years from 1928-1939 and the 1950s drought were the most severe 20th century American droughts. La Niña-like ocean temperatures blocked rain storms and triggered the Dust Bowl while plowing up native grasses made it worse. More concerning is 2 century-long megadroughts between 900 AD and 1400 AD. Trying to survive increasing dryness Native Americans created dams and irrigation canals. But those droughts finally led to the demise of once thriving Pueblo Cultures such as Mesa Verde.

Will our modern water infrastructure protect us if drought history repeats?

Reducing our carbon foot print or whacky plans to shade the earth from the sun to lower global temperatures will have no effect. Lower temperatures may in fact increase major droughts. Droughts during the 1750s, 1820s, and 1850s-1860s were similar to the 1950s. During the cool 1500s, the southwestern United States and Mexico suffered decades long droughts of “epic proportions”.

Coincident with the Pueblo Culture’s demise, drought is detected in sediments of San Francisco Bay. Droughts reduce stream flows that normally flush the bay, allowing salty ocean water to encroach deeper into the Bay’s delta. Past droughts caused the Bay’s Suisun Marsh to become 40% saltier. Suisun Marsh is now considered the only sustainable habitat for a critically endangered fish, the Delta Smelt. The current theory for the Delta Smelt’s demise is agricultural diversions of freshwater raised salinity to intolerable levels. That perceived competition for freshwater has pitted farmers against efforts to save the smelt. Learning how the smelt survived a thousand years of much higher salinity might provide a win-win solution.

Agricultural and urban needs also compete with salmon survival. One promising win-win solution is having juvenile salmon develop in irrigated rice fields after hatching. Experiments show young salmon grow much bigger in rice fields. Additionally, low stream flows hamper salmon migration. But when enough water is naturally stored as groundwater, seasonal groundwater release can maintain adequate summer stream flows. Unfortunately, landscape changes have caused stream channels to cut downwards, draining local groundwater and drying the land. Restoring streams and groundwater would provide great benefits.

During my research in the Sierra Nevada, a meadow we were monitoring began to dry; willows died, and bird populations crashed. Many suggested it was just what global warming models predict. However, we determined a railroad track built over 100 years ago had caused the meadow’s stream channel to cut downwards, draining its groundwater. I initiated a watershed restoration. Vegetation quickly recovered, and wildlife increased. Despite California’s years of extreme drought, the restored meadow remained wetter than it had before restoration and before the drought.

So, I warn: knee-jerk reactions simply blaming climate change for devastating dryness, blind us to real causes and real environmental solutions.

Jim Steele authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.

Contact: naturalclimatechange@earthlink.net

California’s Wildfire History – in one map

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Here is an interesting interactive graphic that depicts perimeters of more than 100 years of California wildfires recorded by Cal Fire and the U.S. Geological Survey. The map below shows all the cumulative fires from 1878 to 2018. It seems as if there is very little of California that has not been touched by wildfire. Large areas of desert in the southeast are mostly untouched due to lack of vegetation.


From the About page:

This map shows the perimeters of wildfires that have burned in California from 1878 to 2018 using data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Geological Survey. The wildfires are categorized by the year in which they started. Perimeter information from fires that started between 1878 and 2017 comes from Cal Fire, while information on the Thomas Fire and fires that started in 2018 comes from the USGS.

Cal Fire says that their dataset — which runs from 1878 to 2017 as of January 2019 — is the most complete dataset of California wildfire perimeters before 1950. However, the pre-1950 information shown here is incomplete and should not be used for further analysis.

Cal Fire’s data on this map shows timber fires that burned more than 10 acres, brush fires that burned more than 50 acres and grass fires that burned more than 300 acres. The USGS data comes from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, which have lower acreage requirements for recording fire perimeters. Because of that, Cal Fire’s data is less comprehensive than the data of their federal partners, which was used for the 2018 fires shown on this map.

This map shows the perimeters of Cal Fire and the U.S. Geological Survey’s recorded wildfires, but it should be noted that not everything within a wildfire perimeter has burned. This means that the areas shown here do not necessarily represent burned areas.

CapRadio changed the names of two fires from the names reported by Cal Fire. Cal Fire’s names for the fires included a racial slur, so we have edited the word in accordance with Associated Press guidelines and our own standards.


Here is the interactive link:

http://projects.capradio.org/california-fire-history/#6/38.58/-121.49