Despite the years-long drought, the Southland can expect roughly the same amount of precipitation over the next 100 years as it received during the last few decades, according to a UCLA study released Thursday.
According to the study, “21st Century Precipitation Changes Over the Los Angeles Region,” the total amount of precipitation in the area is not expected to change much throughout the century, but increased temperatures due to human-caused climate change means a greater portion of that precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow.
In the study by the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, researchers looked at the total amount of precipitation — rain and snow — that falls during the Los Angeles region’s wet season, from December through March.
“Will there be rain in LA’s future? Unquestionably yes,” said Dr. Alex Hall, the study’s lead scientist. “The Los Angeles region resides in between a wetter northern rain regime and a dryer southern one. These two influences have been in a tug-of-war for millennia, and our analysis suggests this pattern will continue.”
“It’s also important to look at these results in the context of our past findings on snowfall,” he said. “Although we don’t expect the total amount of precipitation to change much, we know from the snowfall study that warmer temperatures will cause less of that precipitation to fall as snow. Instead, it will fall as rain, which runs off our mountains much more quickly.”
Over the coming decades, residents may be at an increased risk of flooding and will have smaller windows of time to capture local water, Hall said.
“Every inch of rain we fail to capture results in the loss of 3.8 billion gallons of water,” said Dr. Shelley Luce, executive director of Environment Now. “The recent rain event on Dec. 2 and 3 — these two days alone, if captured, could have supplied over 4 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The UCLA study suggests we can indeed rely on local rain for our water needs — and we must be willing to make the investment.”
The study area included the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange and includes parts of Kern, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
— City News Service
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