Study Links Thawing Ice Caps To California Droughts

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
They’ve been analyzing mineral deposits called stalagmites from caves in the central Sierra Nevada.  
“It’s all those good looking deposits you see hanging from ceilings and growing from the bottom when you go on cave tours.”
UC Davis geology professor Isabel Montanez says they’re a lot like tree rings. She says changes in arctic temperatures show up in the cave deposits.
“These stalagmites, they record with their chemical compositions changes in the annual rainfall. For every time it warmed up in the arctic, according to the ice cores, we see a drying here. And vice a versa for when it cooled there we see wetter conditions for this region of the sierras.”  

Montanez says when temperatures increase in the arctic, they reroute the jet stream, which brings rain to California. She says the fact that the amount of arctic sea ice has declined over the past three decades, could mean more dry years ahead for California.

The UC Davis study appears in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters…and you can hear more about it by clicking on the Insight link above.