News / Science & Technology

US Drought Linked to Climate Change

US Drought Linked to Climate Changei
|| 0:00:00
X
Rosanne Skirble
July 28, 2012
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid