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California Drought Is Most Severe in 1,200 Years, New Study Shows

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The banks of Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet are dry and cracked in this photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Californians are living through the most severe three-year drought in the last 1,200 years, according to a new study published this week in an American Geophysical Union journal.

Although other three-year periods have been drier, 2012-14 stands as perhaps the worst drought in a millennium due in part to “anomalously low” precipitation and “record-high” temperatures, the study said.

And viewed through the lens of history and the changing climate, this current severe event won’t be the last, the study’s co-author said.

“One thing is clear,” said Daniel Griffin, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s department of geography. “Drought is going to continue to happen. This is the kind of thing we get to see in the future.”

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