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Posts under tag: climate

April 6, 2016

California (and the Northwest) may be in for greater weather extremes

The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is depicted in shades of red on this map.

The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is depicted in shades of red on this map.

KQED, the San Francisco-based affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) released an article by Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University working in conjunction with Northwestern and Columbia Universities on the possible causes behind the multi-year drought that has befallen California in the last few years.

One primary reason for the extreme wet or dry years is what Swain called the “Ridiculous Resilient Ridge” or RRR. The RRR is a strong ridge of high pressure that has built up over the last several years off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington. The jet stream is forced further north than what was the usual leading to unseasonably warm weather in the Northwestern United States and less precipitation in California. Additionally, it creates an extreme ridge and trough that can be seen in weather patterns in North America (as seen in the image above). The effects of this new trend has manifested in different ways: Some include severely low groundwater levels that are contributing to the mountains moving into the gaps left behind causing minor earthquakes throughout California’s Central Valley and increased water temperature in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

For more on this phenomenon, click here to read more of Daniel Swain’s article on