Climate-Fueled Drought Fuels Uncertainty Around the World

This past spring, California’s 7-year drought was declared over yet a rainless October along with a NOAA report warning of a dry winter are fueling fears that the state’s water woes will be back once again. Additionally, with no rain in sight, the state’s fire season is expected to last through December.

As If Drought Wasn’t Enough: A new study from the journal Nature Geoscience predicts that as a result of climate change, at the end of the century plants could consume substantially more water, leaving less for people across North America, Europe, and Central Asia—even if it rains and snows more.

How Does This Work?: As National Geographic explained,

  • Plants are like the atmosphere’s straw, dominating how water flows from the land to the atmosphere,” says climate geographer Justin Mankin of Dartmouth College and lead author of the study.

Point being, if we don’t get a grip on climate change, rising temperatures will turn our planet into a greenhouse which can cause an explosion of plant life–something we’ve already started to witness.

Why This Matters: One of the biggest threats from climate change is that there are so many unexpected consequences that we’re just beginning to understand. We know that droughts will continue to plague southern Africa (as is the current case where a record 45 million people face severe food shortages resulting from drought) but climate change is causing droughts to be longer than we’ve anticipated. This is the case with record drought in parts of Australia where for the first time, farmers are having to purchase water for their parched farms as wells have been tapped dry.

 

 

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