Here's Why Climate Change Makes Future Texas Droughts More Likely


photo: Paul Lowry/CC BY

With the ongoing Texas drought now setting classified as the worst one-year drought on record there, OnEarth has a really good summary of the situation, the factors contributing to it. If you're behind on this, check out the whole thing.

The part which grabbed my eye were some quotes really, simply breaking down how climate change is influencing the drought.

"The human-induced components of this [ongoing drought] so far are pretty weak, but I think it's there," [Richard Seager, of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory] says. Even in the absence of La Niña's natural effects, he explains that global warming is making areas like Texas drier than they were for much of the last century. "What you have is background drying, and then the natural variability superimposed on it."

"These are fairly small changes in average temperature, but even small changes can produce very big changes in extreme events," says Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), during a press briefing today on this year's billion-dollar extreme weather events. For example, because the Texas region has become drier, and average temperatures are warmer than they used to be, the region was likely more susceptible to severe drought brought by La Niña than it would have been a few decades ago.

Though the National Weather Service says there's no light at the end of the tunnel yet for this drought, Richard Seager notes that though he doesn't expect Texas to be this dry consistently throughout the 21st century, "the human induced component is making years like this one more likely."

Read more: OnEarth
More on the Texas Drought
No End In Sight For Texas Drought, Says National Weather Service
It's Official: This is Texas's Worst One-Year Drought on Record (Infographic)

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Texas