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EnviroLink Forum • View topic - Droughts more extreme in a warmer world ?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:23 pm 
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A recent study published in the nature journal claims that droughts will not be more extreme in a warmer world.



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As I understand it, they are claiming that higher temperatures do not of themselves lead to drought, as this also increases rainfall, so globally there is no net increase in the severity of droughts.
This I find problematic, as I understand it the subtropical highs have moved further South (or North) and become more intense which in turn means more severe droughts in these areas so on balance it would appear to me that the statement that climate change will increase the severity of droughts is still is correct.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:54 pm 
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I think the key problem is the jet streams... these fast-moving high-altitude winds circle the globe and affect the direction of air and the temperatures of those air masses. When the temperature drops, the air can hold less moisture so it causes rain or snow. The movement of that jet stream is mostly effected by hot and cold areas of the globe including the oceans. When the jet stream location changes, so does the locations the air decides to rain or snow. When the air is dried out, it will not rain or snow anymore and especially if it is warming up. Changing weather patterns from changing temperature means that the areas that are wet and the areas that are dry are going to change.

Long story short... there will be the same amount of water in the air as it starts across the land but where the water goes is going to change. Checking the average rainfall is going to show minimal change. Seeing your land go from high productivity to semi-desert grazing land in a dozen years will be the story of many areas of farmland while places that were long desert areas will start to grow different grasses before someone figures they can grow crops on it.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:11 pm 
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They are using an observational dataset to have determined that droughts have not increased as temperatures increased. Interesting study.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:54 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:03 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:16 am 
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On a global moisture basis you would be hard pressed to show any change in droughts as they are, like floods, localized events. The only way I could see is to compare the areas classified as being in a drought condition and comparing that data for the same period over time. It is not an easy or simple method by any means.

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