Warming makes U.S. West megadrought worst in modern age, ... “This drought looks like one of the worst ones of the last millennium except for the fact that it hasn’t lasted as long. Box 830988 For the first time since March 2011, there was no D4, “exceptional drought,” anywhere in the United States, as analyzed by the U.S. Drought Monitor. P.O. What separates this drought from past megadroughts is that the natural dry cycle is magnified by a warming climate. And appreciate the explaining between Meteorological drought vs. © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Park Williams, Greenland Ice Sheet will melt at fastest rate in 12,000 years, How to reduce food waste during the coronavirus pandemic, Oceans are out of balance — and that means stronger storms, As fossil fuel jobs falter, renewables come to the rescue, California to ban new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035. While things are definitely better than they were three months ago, lots of drought remains in the West. If the drought monitoring community made action figures, Richard would be in the first set. "The rethinking began with their approaches to long-term planning, which now increasingly incorporate climate change," said Lukas. Just a few days ago, on January 26th, 2017, we saw something in the U.S. climate that we hadn’t seen since March 2011. In colder or snowier years, not all the seasonal snow melts and the remaining seasonal snow adds to the glaciers' mass. However, drought held through spring south of the San Francisco Bay, where summer presents almost zero chance of drought recovery. And while recently there have been some changes in specific policies and management decisions to adapt, Lukas says significant obstacles remain. Variations in glacier size (volume) are usually averaged over the period late fall to late fall, growing in winter and shrinking in summer. Increasingly positive values (building to darker greens) indicate more unusual wetness, while increasingly negative values (building to darker browns) indicate more unusual dryness/drought. Lincoln, NE 68583–0988, Data valid: September 29, 2020 at 8 a.m. EDT, © 2020 - National Drought Mitigation Center. This PHDI index is tuned for changes on the time scale of 24 months. Since warmer air holds more moisture, extra moisture is increasingly being drawn from the ground, intensifying drying soils. Scientists have long suspected that the current situation has been evolving into one of these megadroughts. Climate.gov photo by Andrew Williams. I live north of Scottsdale, and my son is worried about the water issue, esp.
The people in California got the most because there were more of them relatively speaking than in any of the other Colorado River Pact states. Interannual variations occur primarily driven by variations in winter snowfall and summer warmth. If I get a note from someone more glacier-minded or Northwestern than me, I'll make sure to follow my comments up here). And even when they do, they will be but a blip against the big picture. The National Drought Mitigation Center Thank you for this. As illustrated in the below image, they found that this 19-year period was the second-driest, already outdoing the three earliest ones and on par with the fourth period which spanned from 1575 to 1603. Its monitoring tools pay a lot of attention to soil moisture. How is drought affecting you? Because the past century was not representative of typical water availability, and climate change is stripping away water at an ever increasing rate, policy makers and managers have been forced to grapple with the new climate reality. Farther south, several new patches of exceptional drought (D4) were introduced or expanded in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Hi there, this is a great question, but I think it may be a little hypothetical. The time series shows that, on this multi-year time scale, the region has been in significant drought for the better part of the last two decades. This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. Follow him on Twitter @WeatherProf. Nearly all glaciers, including those in the US, are receding and shrinking, losing more mass each year by melting than they gain in winter snowfall. (confession: I'm speaking off the cuff here, and my background is mainly in agricultural drought and mostly east of the Rockies. Meanwhile, very poor to poor ratings were indicated by USDA on September 27 on at least 50% of rangeland and pastures in all Western States except Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, led by Oregon (82% very poor to poor). And the drought in the West doesn’t even date to 2012/13. You say we need years of wet winters to improve it, but what does this mean? Instead, he is more concerned about out-of-control blazes. Seasonal snowmelt certainly is a big part of the western water equation. That’s a nerdy way of saying that there is lots of plumbing in the West that moves water around and between river basins--sometimes from several states away--to meet people’s needs. It’s described over weeks, months, seasons (probably the sweet spot), years and decades. Seasonal changes and long-term changes to snowpack and the timing of snowmelt are major concerns in the water future of the US Pacific Northwest. "We now have enough observations of current drought and tree-ring records of past drought to say that we're on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts," says lead author Park Williams, a research professor in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. A new study from Columbia University says the region has now entered into a climate-driven megadrought — possibly the worst in modern history. This has caused the modern megadrought to … Precipitation spread as far inland as the northern Rockies; in Idaho, daily-record totals included 0.55 inch (on September 25) in Stanley and 0.54 inch (on September 26) in McCall.
Catastrophic wildfires, decreasing snowpack and dwindling water resources have become a normal part of life for residents in the western U.S. And, as a result of climate change, this may be just the beginning. Each frame shows a successive April snapshot, with the final frame being as of late January 2017. With that said, I don't think glacial melt (the melting of much, much older snow that has become ice over decades/centuries) is a significant part of the year-to-year water scene. These impacts are regimented such that we’ve come up with many lenses to observe drought. "The biggest impact to everyday people from the changing climate and inevitable future megadroughts is not — perhaps surprisingly — towns and cities running out of water," explains Lukas. So, just to acknowledge out loud: thanks, Richard, for your advice on some of the details of this particular article. Posts reflect the views of the bloggers or guest contributors themselves, not necessarily those of Climate.gov, NOAA, or NCEI. Thus, their ability to diminish the severity of future droughts is declining. One of the many rewarding things about serving at the National Centers for Environmental Information is that I work about 20 feet from one of the Legends of Drought Monitoring, Richard Heim. The bottom panel shows the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), which depicts drought severity according to the precipitation that occurred during the month (supply), combined with the evaporative stresses (demand) based on temperature. Since regional temperatures in the West are projected to keep rising, this trend is likely to continue.
The last vestige of D4—the most severe category in the monitoring system—disappeared from its southern California holdout, part of a larger pattern of substantial mid-January drought improvements in California. "Because the background is getting warmer, the dice are increasingly loaded toward longer and more severe droughts," said Williams. Late 2015 wetness helped the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies, and by spring 2016, drought was almost eradicated there. But Richard is Big League. The monitoring tools for hydrological drought are tuned for the long game: measuring change on the year-ish and longer scales. Wildfire danger associated with drought responds (worsens *and* improves) on these scales. / CBS News. Add these complicating factors together and you can see that we aren’t out of the woods in the West, even if many westerners have muddy boots this winter.
Troutdale, Oregon, reported more than an inch of rain on September 18, 23, and 25—with totals of 1.13, 1.18, and 1.02 inches, respectively. The team then compared the ancient megadroughts to soil moisture records from the years 2000 to 2018. Well, technically, we didn’t see something, I guess. If you’ll allow me a couple paragraphs of personal reflection.
"When managers need the backing of elected officials and the public to pursue and enact policies motivated by the new climate reality, they can be constrained by short-term thinking and partisan opposition. I haven't done any formal homework to answer this question. I'm not aware if the same applies to the Rockies and southern Sierra Nevada ranges. Awesome article. This has caused the modern megadrought to impact an even wider area than any of the past ones. This winter's snowpack in the Pacific NW is well above normal, so I expect glaciers there will experience a year of net growth. Drought expanded westward beginning in 2012, becoming entrenched in the region and peaking in 2015. Thanks for a great article. Low water in Don Pedro Reservoir, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada about 10 miles west of Yosemite National Park. Is there somewhere one should go to read more about practical implications of the groundwater situation? Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The northern states split the other 50% of the water, and Mexico gets a good chunk as well. However, the remainder of the West remained warm and dry, with gusty winds and low humidity levels contributing to another round of dangerous wildfire activity in northern California. If you rely on groundwater in the West, you’re still feeling drought, significantly. Their analysis utilized 1,200 years of tree ring data, modern weather observations and dozens of climate models. As the water year (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020) came to an end, extreme drought (D3) was expanded in northern California and portions of neighboring states.
We talk quite a bit about scales in climate and meteorology. Simply put, the law of gravity ain’t the only law determining where water goes.
While there have been some wet years like in 2019, overall water resources have been under unprecedented stress in the modern era. Railroads promised land to people willing to settle it, and the period between 1877 and 1890 was wetter than usual, leading to unrealistic expectations of land productivity. Areas designated "SL" are experiencing both scales of impact. First of all, I'm assuming you're talking about North American glaciers. These different scales of drought mean that “drought recovery” means different things for different folks. Jeff Berardelli is CBS News Meteorologist and Climate Specialist.
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