News / Science & Technology

US Drought Linked to Climate Change

US Drought Linked to Climate Changei
|| 0:00:00
X
Rosanne Skirble
July 28, 2012 2:33 AM
As one of the worst droughts ever continues to grip major portions of the United States, a new study links this summer’s record-setting dry spell, and other extreme weather events, to the world’s warming climate. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the implications.

US Drought Linked to Climate Change

Rosanne Skirble
As one of the worst droughts ever continues to grip major portions of the United States, a new study links this summer’s record-setting dry spell, and other extreme weather events, to the world’s warming climate.   
    
Parched earth

In Texas, the earth is parched. Rivers have dried up, and pasture land has turned brown from the heat. It’s been this way since January 2011. The southwestern state is the fourth largest producer of rice in the United States but the drought could cut production by half.

"Our total agri-income, farm gate value of our commodities here, were usually right around $290 million, and a large percentage of that comes from rice production," Texas agricultural extension agent Peter McGuill says. "You’re talking about a big chunk of money that’s not going to be circulating within the economy.”

James Bradbury, a climate scientist with the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think tank, explains that La Nina, a natural weather pattern that periodically cools the Pacific Ocean, helped trigger the drought by bringing warmer, dryer weather to the American South, which has been hardest hit by the drought.
US Drought Linked to Climate Change
US Drought Linked to Climate Changei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

“Time will tell the extent to which rising temperatures and global climate change contributed to this specific event and the severity of it," Bradbury says. "I think there is a good likelihood that the temperatures that we’re seeing and the heat wave that we’re seeing is all consistent with a warmer world, that that's exacerbating these drought conditions."

Human influence

Peter Stott, who leads the climate monitoring team for the Met Office Hadley Centre, a climate research institution in southwest Britain, says La Nina is only part of the story. He co-authored the American Meteorological Society study which links climate change with the Texas drought and other extreme weather events.   

“We did find clear evidence for human influence on the Texas heat wave and also in the very unusual temperatures we had in the United Kingdom in 2011,” he says.  
 
The study finds the 2011 Texas drought was 20 times more likely to occur than in the 1960s as a result of human-induced climate changing emissions in the atmosphere. The heat wave last November in England was 62 times more likely to have occurred than 50 years ago, according to the report.  

While not all extreme weather events can be linked to climate change, Stott and his colleagues found evidence that they are more probable in a warmer world.

“What we must remember is that it is the combination of natural variations of climate that is important here," Stott says. "We saw that in La Nina in Texas, but, over and above that, there is this additional climate effect that can and has indeed in the last year led to a greater vulnerability to extreme weather.”

Worsening conditions

Drought continues to parch other parts of the U.S., sparking wildfires and damaging crops in one third of the nation’s counties. U.S. scientists predict that these conditions could even get worse in the coming months, which doesn’t bode well for Iowa farmer Tom Zaputil’s corn crop, which hasn’t had a significant rain since June.

"This here is strictly dryness here," Zaputil says, referring to his crop. "These stalks will cannibalize themselves to pull moisture out of it in order to feed that ear, and these will get brittle and very susceptible to high wind damage later on in the season.”

Stott says the new findings are a wake-up call that the adverse impact of a warming climate can be reduced by acting now to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from cars, factories and buildings.

“So hopefully people can understand the implication of future climate change and relate that to what’s happening at the moment.”

Stott says the study is the first of what he hopes will be annual reports examining the connection between global warming and specific extreme weather events.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid