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Climate change has been causing droughts for a century, and this trend is accelerating

Climate change link to global droughts goes back a century, study finds, SMH,  by Peter Hannam, May 2, 2019 Humans have contributed to increased global risks of drought for more than a century, scientists say, in findings that also point to “severe” consequences ahead with climate change.

The research by US-based scientists and published in Nature journal on Thursday comes as the latest Bureau of Meteorology data showed the first four months of 2019 were the hottest on record for Australia as drought tightened its grip on the country’s south-east.

The scientists, led by Kate Marvel at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, used so-called drought atlases derived from tree-ring data combined with satellite observations and climate models to identify how soil moisture has changed.

They found drought increased during the first half of the 20th century, eased in the quarter century to 1975 and worsened again. The pause in the trend coincided with increased aerosol pollution.

Models project and observations show a re-emerging greenhouse gas signal towards the end of the 20th century, and this signal is likely to grow stronger in the next several decades,” the paper concluded. “The human consequences of this, particularly drying over large parts of North America and Eurasia, are likely to be severe.”

Paul Durack, a research scientist and an author of the paper, said the study was the first to show global-scale droughts to be impacted by human activities.

“This is potentially bad news for Australia, and similar climate regions such as California,” he said in a statement. “These regions have experienced devastating recent droughts, and if the model projected changes continue, such droughts will become more commonplace into the future.”

Andrew King, climate extremes research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, said while heat extremes caused by climate change have been clear, “droughts are very complicated”, with natural variability masking the trends, Dr King said.

“You’d expect the signal to be weaker. Like in this study, we found an increased human fingerprint for heat extremes more recently that will continue to increase in the next few decades.”…….


May 2, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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