Shraddhanand Shukla, Mohammad Safeeq, Amir AghaKouchak, Kaiyu Guan, Chris Funk

Geophysical Research Letters

Published date May 10, 2015

Temperature impacts on the water year 2014 drought in California

  • States that California is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record
  • Uses a hydrological model and risk assessment framework to understand the influence of temperature on the water year (WY) 2014 drought in California
  • Examines the probability that this drought would have been less severe if temperatures resembled the historical climatology
  • Results indicate that temperature played an important role in exacerbating the WY 2014 drought severity
  • Finds that if WY 2014 temperatures resembled the 1916–2012 climatology, there would have been at least an 86% chance that winter snow water equivalent and spring‐summer soil moisture and runoff deficits would have been less severe than the observed conditions
  • Reports that the temperature forecast skill in California for the important seasons of winter and spring is negligible, beyond a lead time of 1 month, which might hinder skillful drought prediction in California