The results of a just released NOAA sponsored Assessment Report “Causes and Predictability of the 2014-14 California Drought” by lead author Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory was summarized in a new USA Today article (December 8, 2014) as follows:

Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought that’s parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.”

The NOAA report goes on to say that an unusually persistent (three year) winter time atmospheric high pressure ridge has diverted / blocked rain bearing storms from reaching California, and that unusually elevated ocean surface temperatures in the far western Gulf of Alaska are aiding this process. This is a very significant conclusion, because the study implies that atmospheric conditions are being driven by warm ocean water, NOT the other way around.

Climate scientists have for many years contended that the atmosphere is the sole driver of climate, and that it also warms the oceans. Their atmospherically based Climate Models supposedly support this contention. So increased CO2 leads to increased world temperatures, and importantly warmed oceans.

The California drought certainly qualifies as an unusual climate variation, and this new report supports the notion that something other than the atmosphere is driving this weather pattern. It seems logical to at least consider that deep geologically induced ocean heating has made its way to shallower depths in the far portions of the Gulf of Alaska thereby directly contributing to the California Drought. Find below maps from Richard Seager et al’s work.


Another very interesting slant on this new information is that NASA recently announced that warm ocean waters in selective regions of the Antarctic Continent are driven by atmospherically driven global warming. Their climate models apparently indicate that ocean warming is driven by the atmosphere. This seems to be at odds with the NOAA climate models.

A more plausible and consistent explanation for ocean warming in both examples, California's Drought and West Antarctica melting, is geologically induced deep ocean heating from tectonic plate boundaries or areas of increased volcanic activity. This notion fits well with the plate climatology theory and its effects on climate.

Just like man-made global warming, the theory of Plate Climatology is still very new. But given this new information it should be given strong consideration by scientists studying climate.