HomeTechnologyClimate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

BY DREW COSTLEY, AP Science Writer

The drought that swept across three continents this summer, drying out much of Europe, the United States and China, was 20 times more likely due to climate change, according to a new study.

The drought dried up major rivers, destroyed crops, started forest fires, threatened aquatic species and caused water restrictions in Europe. It hit places already plagued by drought in the US, like the West, but also places where drought is more rare, like the Northeast. China also just had its driest summer in 60 years, leaving its famous Yangtze River half its normal width.

Researchers from World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists around the world who study the link between extreme weather and climate change, say this type of drought would only occur once every 400 years in the Northern Hemisphere if it weren’t for climate change. man-made climate. They now expect these conditions to repeat themselves every 20 years, given how much the climate has warmed.

Ecological disasters like widespread drought and then massive flooding in Pakistan are the “fingerprints of climate change,” said Martin van Aalst, a climate scientist at Columbia University and a co-author of the study.

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“The impacts are very clear to people and they are hitting hard,” he said, “not only in poor countries, like the floods in Pakistan… but also in some of the richer parts of the world, like Central Western Europe. ”.

To determine the influence of climate change on drying in the Northern Hemisphere, the scientists analyzed meteorological data, computer simulations, and soil moisture in all regions, excluding tropical areas. They found that climate change made dry ground conditions much more likely in recent months.

This analysis was done using the warming the climate has already experienced so far, 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit), but climatologists have warned that the climate will warm, and the study authors explained this.

With an additional 0.8 degrees C warming, this type of drought will occur once every 10 years in western Central Europe and every year in the entire Northern Hemisphere, said Dominik Schumacher, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich, a university in Switzerland. .

“We are seeing these combined and cascading effects across sectors and across regions,” van Aalst said. “One way to reduce those impacts (is) to reduce emissions.”

Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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