Scientist: Climate change has made summer droughts more likely

Scientists say that without human-caused climate change, such a severe drought would only occur in the northern hemisphere every 400 years.

LOS ANGELES — A drought that spanned three continents this summer, drying out large parts of Europe, the United States and China, has become 20 times more likely as a result of climate change, according to a new study.

Drought dried up major rivers, destroyed crops, sparked wildfires, threatened aquatic species and led to Water Restrictions in Europe. It hit places already plagued by dehydration in the US, like the westbut also places where drought is rarer, like the Northeast. China just had theirs too driest summer in 60 yearswhere the famous Yangtze River is only half as wide as usual.

Researchers from World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists from around the world studying the link between extreme weather and climate change, say this type of drought in the northern hemisphere would only occur once every 400 years were it not for human-caused climate change would. Now they expect these conditions to repeat themselves every 20 years given how much the climate has warmed.

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

“The impact on people is very clear and it’s hitting hard,” he said, “not only in poor countries, like flooded Pakistan … but also in some of the richest parts of the world, like western central Europe.”

To find out how climate change is affecting drought in the northern hemisphere, the scientists analyzed weather data, computer simulations and soil moisture in all regions except tropical areas. They found that climate change has made dry soils much more likely in recent months.

This analysis was based on the warming the climate has experienced so far, 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit), but climate scientists have warned against it climate is getting warmer, and the authors of the study explained this.

With an additional 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming, this type of drought will occur every 10 years in west-central Europe and every year in the northern hemisphere, said Dominik Schumacher, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich, a university in Switzerland.

“We’re seeing this compounding and cascading effect across sectors and regions,” said van Aalst. “One way to reduce this impact is to reduce emissions.”

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/climate-change-summer-drought-20-times-more-likely/507-267a6dc6-7df8-435d-a138-53d76023345a Scientist: Climate change has made summer droughts more likely

Laura Coffey

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