Drought, floods and heat waves are becoming more common in western North America, and scientists expect the trend to continue. The culprit? A new study points to climate change.

“Our study found that extreme variability is synchronizing processes within and among ecosystems at a level not seen in the last 250 years,” Dr. Ivan Arismendi of Oregon State University said in a press release.

The bulk of research on climate change focuses on averages such as rising global temperatures, Arismendi said. He and his colleagues saw a need for more study into how climate change is affecting conditions on a smaller scale.

So they turned their focus to western North America. Led by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, the team of scientists looked at how climate change is affecting the North Pacific High, and how that in turn is affecting ecosystems in western North America.

A subtropical “anti-cyclone,” the North Pacific High is a climate pattern centered northeast of Hawaii and west of California. It shifts toward the equator in the winter. It’s connected to dry weather in the summer and fall and rainy months in the winter and spring in California.

Read the full article at www.earth.com