There’s no doubt what’s behind the drought: climate change

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Coachella Valley, California

No Doubt It’s A Climate-Change Drought, Scientists Say

by Jeff McMahon


The scientists had gathered in part because a recent study from NOAA has been interpreted to suggest the drought derives from the natural variability of the climate. But these three scientists say that interpretation derives from NOAA’s focus on only one aspect of the drought—mean rainfall. When you look at the drought as an extreme event, they said, and when you look at its probability of recurring, and when you look at not only rainfall but also temperature and evaporation, there’s no doubt what’s behind the drought.

“One of the things that is certainly making it worse is climate change,” Overpeck said. “If we really want to tackle the water problem in the west we need to tackle the climate change problem.”

Overpeck and Stanford Professor Noah Diffenbaugh said the NOAA study is sound but does not consider all of the factors that reveal the influence of anthropogenic climate change.

“I agree that all of these studies that in some cases appear at first glance to be conflicting are good science, but they all have their own focus. But one of the reasons we’re doing this press event today is that we’re trying to give you the big picture.”

To see the big picture, one has to look beyond mean rainfall, at other places climate signals may be recorded, the scientists said. For example, high temperatures worsen droughts by causing moisture to evaporate more quickly.

Read the full article: Forbes

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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