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Must read this: New climate study from National Center for Atmospheric Research

21 Oct

Upload by Anric Blatt

This outstanding article reviews recent literature on drought of the last millennium, followed by an update on global aridity changes from 1950 to 2008.

If you are interested in climate change and its effect on our world – I really suggest downloading and reading this article. It is well worth the time, its not some sell side biased research. Its really good.

The NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) study is the source of the top figure), which shows that in a half century, much of the United States (and large parts of the rest of the world) could experience devastating levels of drought — far worse than the 1930s Dust Bowl, especially since the conditions would only get worse and worse and worse and worse, while potentially affecting 10 to 100 times as many people.

This study merely models the IPCC’s “moderate” A1B scenario — atmospheric concentrations of CO2 around 520 ppm in 2050 and 700 in 2100. We’re currently on the A1F1 pathway, which would takes us to 1000 ppm by century’s end, but I’m sure with an aggressive program of energy R&D we could keep that to, say 900 ppm.

As alarming as the image shows (click to enlarge), there may still be additional processes that could cause additional drying over land under global warming that are not included in the model calculations. These may increase flash floods and runoff, but diminish soil moisture and increase the risk of agricultural drought. That is, even when it does rain in dry areas, it may come down so intensely as to be counterproductive.

Dry periods lasting for years to decades have occurred many times during the last millennium over, for example, North America, West Africa, and East Asia. These droughts were likely triggered by anomalous tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs), with La Niña-like SST anomalies leading to drought in North America, and El-Niño-like SSTs causing drought in East China. Over Africa, the southward shift of the warmest SSTs in the Atlantic and warming in the Indian Ocean are responsible for the recent Sahel droughts. Local feedbacks may enhance and prolong drought. Global aridity has increased substantially since the 1970s due to recent drying over Africa, southern Europe, East and South Asia, and eastern Australia. Although El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), tropical Atlantic SSTs, and Asian monsoons have played a large role in the recent drying, recent warming has increased atmospheric moisture demand and likely altered atmospheric circulation patterns, both contributing to the drying.

Climate models project increased aridity in the 21st century over most of Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East, most of the Americas, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Regions like the United States have avoided prolonged droughts during the last 50 years due to natural climate variations, but might see persistent droughts in the next 20–50 years.

Get the full report by clicking here

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