Global Warming to Blame for 37% of Droughts
photo by Bert Kaufmann via Flickr CC
It's a bit of a debate about exactly what role global warming is playing in droughts in Australia and the US, but at least one scientist has determined that it is 37% at fault for the decreased rainfall in the areas.Melbourne University's Peter Baines noticed a trend when he analyzed several layers of statistics, including global rainfall. sea surface temperature data, and a reconstruction of atmospheric behavior over the last 50 years. The trend he saw was that over the last 15 years, global warming seems to be to blame for at least 37% of the drop in rainfall in the continental United States, southeastern Australia, a large region of equatorial Africa and the Altiplano in South America.
"The 37 percent is probably going to increase if global warming continues," Baines told Reuters from Perth in Western Australia, where he presented his findings at a major climate change conference. "This is all part of a global pattern where the rainfall is generally increasing in the equatorial tropics and decreasing in the sub-tropics in mid-latitudes," Baines said.
Droughts and global warming are part of a downward spiral, with global warming affecting rainfall, which affects tree growth, which affects carbon sequestration, which affects global warming. If we're to immediately take anything from this, it's that we have to treat water as a far more valuable resource than we have been, and pick up the pace on water technologies for purification, desalination, and agricultural efficiency.
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