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 Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
16.02.2018 | Princeton University

nachricht NASA finds strongest storms in weakening Tropical Cyclone Sanba
15.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>