Do humans have a role in the California drought?

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snowpackA new measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack will be made today, and the results are not expected to be encouraging.

The state’s first two surveys of the season indicated that water content in the snowpack was less than 20 percent of where it should have been. The news is not anticipated to be much better in survey No. 3.

Officials with the Department of Water Resources says storms over the past few days have dropped some new snow in the Sierras, but it’s far short of what the state needs. The Sierras supply about a third of the state’s water.

The latest assessment of the state’s future water supply comes as a new study points a finger at global climate change as a contributor to the drought.

Stanford researchers says human-caused climate change is increasing the frequency of severe droughts in California. The study says climate change has made it more likely that the two main weather conditions that cause droughts – little rain or snow and higher-than-average temperatures – will occur at the same time.

The study used historical records and computer simulations to reach its conclusions. It contradicts the findings of scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who have said that California’s drought is being fueled primarily be natural weather patterns.

Either way, it’s dry. The drought is now in its fourth year and the National Drought Monitor says more than 97 percent of the state is affected.