California experienced its wettest winter on record this year, and water rushed back to California’s rivers and reservoirs, and Governor Jerry Brown lifted the drought emergency across most of the state after several years of one of the state’s most debilitating droughts to date.
But a new study just published in Nature, however, demonstrates it takes time for an ecosystem to return to pre-drought levels of photosynthesis and growth, and it doesn’t happen overnight, notes Kate Wheeling.
“When we think about drought impacts on ecosystems or on forests, we tend to stop paying attention once the rainfall returns to normal, once the drought from a climate perspective is done,” William Anderegg, an assistant professor at the University of Utah and an author on the study told Pacific Standard.
And as droughts grow more frequent and severe, as a result of climate change, multiple droughts could happen simultaneously before an ecosystem can recover. That’s when the entire ecosystem crashes and is lost forever.
And quick succession of droughts would likely lead “to an alarming feedback loop of increased warming and more extreme climates,” says Anderegg.