Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drought in the West linked to warmer temperatures

08.10.2004


Historical study shows elevated aridity in periods of warming



Severe drought in western states in recent years may be linked to climate warming trends, according to new research led by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University to be posted October 7 on Science magazine’s website, www.sciencemag.org. This research was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Analyzing aridity in the western U.S. over the past 1,200 years, the study team, which also included scientists from the University of Arizona, University of Arkansas, and NOAA, found evidence suggesting that elevated aridity in the U.S. West may be a natural response to climate warming. "The Western United States is so vulnerable to drought, we thought it was important to understand some of the long-term causes of drought in North America," said lead author Dr. Edward R. Cook of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory’s tree ring laboratory.


The study revealed that a 400-year-long period of elevated aridity and epic drought occurred in what is now the western U.S. during the period A.D. 900-1300. This corresponds broadly to the so-called "Medieval Warm Period," a time in which a variety of paleoclimate records indicate unusual warmth over much of the Northern Hemisphere. The authors of the new study argue that there are climate mechanisms involved that make warming climate conditions likely to lead to increased prevalence of drought in the western, interior region of North America. Looking at implications for the future, the authors express concern. "Any trend towards warmer temperatures in the future could lead to a serious long-term increase in aridity over Western North America," they write in the paper.

Co-author Dr. David Meko of the University of Arizona tree ring lab notes that the drought that has gripped the western United States for the past four years "pales in comparison with some of the earlier droughts we see from the tree-ring record. What would really put a stress on society is decade-long drought." "If warming over the tropical Pacific Ocean promotes drought over the western U.S., this is a potential problem for the future in a world that is increasingly subjected to greenhouse warming," Dr. Cook added.

The study’s authors used tree ring records to reconstruct evidence of drought, and also looked at a number of independent drought indicators ranging from elevated charcoal in lake sediments to sand dune activation records. The team then used published climate model studies to explore mechanisms that link warming with aridity in the western U.S.

In addition to the paper in Science, they also used the data to create a CD-ROM called the North American Drought Atlas, the first of its kind, providing a history of drought on this continent. The atlas contains annual maps of reconstructed droughts over North America, an animation of those maps showing aridity over time, and a time series plot of each reconstruction with associated plots of calibrated and verification statistics. The North American Drought Atlas CD-ROM can be obtained by contacting Dr. Edward R. Cook at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (drdendro@ldeo.columbia.edu).

Mary Tobin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu
http://www.sciencemag.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>