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California drought could be "the new normal"

A stunning report on California's drought shows that 63 trillion gallons of water are gone from the region
Western drought: Water scarcity becoming new way of life 02:57

A new study shows that 63 trillion gallons of water have been used in California during the drought, which is nearing the 1,000-day mark. CBS News science contributor Michio Kaku says drought conditions may be the new standard for the state.

"If you look at tree rings and lake sediments, you realize you'd have to go back centuries to find a drought of this kind of magnitude," Kaku said. "And we begin to realize droughts have lasted decades, even centuries, in the history of California. So yeah, some people are saying this could be a mega-drought, this could be the new normal."

California could be in for megadrought 02:10

Kaku says that the drought is even affecting the state's topography.

"Believe it or not California is rising, literally rising," Kaku told CBS News. "The mountains of California have risen about half an inch just in the last two years. Because of all the loss of water, we actually have all these GPS sensors, we can actually measure the fact that the loss of water is causing the Earth to spring back about half an inch under the mountains of California. That's how punishing this drought is."

The drought is joining an influx of unexpected weather occurrences this summer. El Nino caused an uncharacteristically cold August, and the Northeast saw severe flooding.

"You realize that about 34 percent of the country is experiencing some form of drought, which is ironic because in the northeast we've had flooding," Kaku said. "We've had this wacky weather, we've had this wacky summer, where we've had unusually cold weather in the northeast, just go outside and you can see that, and drought and blistering temperatures in the West. Now the good news is El Nino is setting in, which means that California could get some rainfall, could get some relief."

Kaku thinks that California's drought may not only be the new normal, we may even be lucky it's been so temperate for this long.

"When you start to look back decades now, decades into the past, you start to see that droughts in California were once normal," Kaku said. "In fact, what some people say is abnormal is the recent plentiful amount of water in the last few centuries - that we are benefiting from an abnormal situation."

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