Tag: drought

Will global warming desiccate the Southwest?

‘A normal year in the Southwest is now drier than it once was’

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Will the Southwest’s life-giving rains fade away? @bberwyn photo.
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A federal climate assessment projects soaring temperatures for the Southwest.

Staff Report

A subtle long-term shift in atmospheric patterns driven by global warming could lead to longer and more intense droughts in the southwestern U.S. and other semi-arid regions. Most climate models suggest that that a belt of higher average pressure that now sits closer to the equator will move north. This high-pressure belt is created as air that rises over the equator moves poleward and then descends back toward the surface.

That shift may already be affecting the climate of the Southwest, as moisture-bearing weather patterns have become more rare in the region, according to a new study. Previous research has suggested that the region’s forests and fish and birds are in big trouble. In Australia, researchers are nearly certain that global warming was a factor in a record-breaking 2013 heatwave. A federal climate assessment released in 2013 also identified similar concerns for the Southwest.

“A normal year in the Southwest is now drier than it once was,” said Andreas Prein, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who led the study. “If you have a drought nowadays, it will be more severe because our base state is drier.” Continue reading “Will global warming desiccate the Southwest?”

Nevada fossil records offer global warming clues

Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past.
Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past. Photo courtesy Eric Scott/USGS.

Abrupt climate change ripples through desert ecosystems

Staff Report

Freshwater springs outside Las Vegas offer some clues about how global warming will affect desert ecosystems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

New research shows the seeps and springs expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm.

“This is a story of water,” said Springer. “Water was plentiful in the desert at times in the past, but when climate warmed, springs and wetlands dried up, and the plants and animals living in the harsh desert environment were out of luck,” said USGS scientist Kathleen Springer. Continue reading “Nevada fossil records offer global warming clues”

Study suggests California weather will be more extreme

More drought, more flooding …

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An intensifying El Niño cycle could affect California weather.

Staff Report

The Pacific Ocean’s El Niño-La Niña cycle may become a dominant factor in West Coast weather by the end of this century and lead to more frequent weather extremes, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Based on the findings, California could see the number of extreme droughts and floods by 2100, the researchers found.

A better understanding of what gives rise to El Nino and La Nina cycles — together known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation — might help California predict and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the coming century. Continue reading “Study suggests California weather will be more extreme”

Study: Horn of Africa droughts linked with global warming

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Will global warming drive more drought in the Horn of Africa?

‘The rate of the recent drying in the Horn of Africa is unprecedented in the last 2,000 years …’

Staff Report

The Horn of Africa, encompassing Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia, has been drying in sync with increases in global greenhouse gas emissions and could experience for frequent and intense droughts as global warming continues, scientists said after studying layers of sediments from the Gulf of Aden.

The detailed core samples enabled the scientists to create a highly accurate temperature record going back 2,000 years. The Horn of Africa has suffered deadly droughts every few years in recent decades and the study findings suggest the region will get progressively less rain during the crucial “long rains” season of March, April and May. Continue reading “Study: Horn of Africa droughts linked with global warming”

Study eyes link between climate change and infant health

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Does climate change have an effect on pregnancy and infant health?

Research in Africa suggests drought and heatwaves results in lower birth weight

Staff Report

A complex statistical analysis of health and climate data suggests there may be a link between climate change and birth weight, at least in parts of the developing world. The findings show that a pregnant woman’s exposure to reduced precipitation and an increased number of very hot days results in lower birth weight.

The two-year research project was led by University of Utah geography professor Kathryn Grace, who said the results are a clear warning that climate change may have a direct affect on public health. Continue reading “Study eyes link between climate change and infant health”

Colorado finalizes climate plan

Colorado recorded the greatest increase in average maximum temperatures — between .7 and .9 degrees — from the old normals, compiled between 1971 and 2000, and the new normals, which are based on temperature readings between 1981 and 2010. On average across the U.S., the new average temperatures are about .5 degrees warmer.
Colorado recorded the greatest increase in average maximum temperatures — between .7 and .9 degrees — from the old normals, compiled between 1971 and 2000, and the new normals, which are based on temperature readings between 1981 and 2010. On average across the U.S., the new average temperatures are about .5 degrees warmer.

Multiple state agencies will eye adaptation, mitigation strategies

Staff Report

Colorado’s new climate plan calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach, with various state agencies working together, and with the public, to address the potential impacts of rising temperatures.

Acknowledging that average temperatures in the state could rise by as much as 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius in the next few decades, Gov. John Hickenlooper called on Colorado make preparations now.

“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “We’ve seen what Mother Nature can do, and additional risks present a considerable set of challenges for the state, our residents, and our way of life. This comprehensive plan puts forth our commitment from the state and sets the groundwork for the collaboration needed to make sure Colorado is prepared.”

Continue reading “Colorado finalizes climate plan”

Drought dries up frog ponds in Pacific Northwest

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Current drought offers window into future climate conditions.

‘More years like 2015 do not bode well for the frogs …’

Staff Report

LINZ — This year’s fierce drought in the Pacific Northwest has given researchers a chance to see how climate change may affect the region long-term, and the outlook is not good for amphibians.

The low winter snowpack and long, hot summer have left some frogs high and dry as their mountain ponds dry up and disappear. Those conditions could be the norm in another 50 years, said Se-Yeun Lee, research scientist at University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and one of the lead authors of the study published last week in PLOS ONE.

“This year is an analog for the 2070s in terms of the conditions of the ponds in response to climate,” said Se-Yeun Lee, research scientist at University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and one of the lead authors of the study. Continue reading “Drought dries up frog ponds in Pacific Northwest”