Thursday, February 5, 2015
Climate Change Increases the Risk of Megadroughts
New research has quantified the risks from climate change and provided insights into the prospects of megadroughts in the US and around the world. The study is titled, "Assessing the risk of persistent drought using climate model simulations and paleoclimate data."
The scientists from Cornell, University of Arizona and US Geological Survey came to the shocking conclusion that in places like the southwestern US, "the risk of a decade-scale megadrought in the coming century is at least 80 percent, and may be higher than 90 percent in certain areas."
Extrapolating data from this study shows that there are equal or higher risks of megadroughts in the rest of the world than the estimates provided for the US Southwest. This means that in the subtropics (e.g., in the Mediterranean, western and southern Africa, Australia, and much of South America) the likelihood of megadrought is more than 90 percent.
These findings are considered to be highly conservative because they do not factor temperature increases which are known to increase drought effects. The actual likelihood of drought when temperature increases are factored into the equation may be closer to 100 percent.
This data corroborates a 2012 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This study concluded that without significant emissions reduction most of southern Europe and about half of the United States will experience persistent extreme drought.
We are already seeing severe droughts in California, Brazil, Australia and other places around the world. We know that entire civilizations have been ended by megadroughts. The current situation and the looming threat of megadroughts make efforts to significantly reduce emissions that much more urgent.
Drought in California and Heat in Alaska
The Drought in California is a Global Warning
Climate Change Induced Drought Threatens Brazil's Carnival
Infographic - Civilizations that have Succumbed to Megadrought
Infographic - US Megadroughts this Century
Charts and Graphs - US Drought
Report on Extreme Weather Including Drought
CO2 Will Adversely Impact Rainfall Causing Drought and Floods
Heat in the US Northeast and Drought Around the World