Science

Global Warming: Drought In 2012 Not Connected

By Matthew Klickstein , Apr 12, 2013 11:16 AM EDT
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The severe drought that ravaged the nation's midsection in 2012 was apparently not caused by man-made global warming, according to a new federal science study. Rather than blaming global warming, the study points to the reason behind the drought as a "freak of nature."

The scientists further elaborated on the freak of nature drought by saying a paucity of moisture typically coming from the Gulf of Mexico was the central reason for last year's devastating drought.

"This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years," said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, as relayed by Associated Press.

"Climate change was not a significant part, if any, of the event," Hoerling continued.   

Even though the researchers looking into reasons for the drought concentrated their efforts on six states — Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa — there were effects seen from the drought throughout much of the lower 48 states.

Hoerling said that those six states, though, experienced the worst drought seen on record since such records were first kept in 1895.

Despite the fact that there are scientists who feel changes in the moisture jet stream that resulted in the drought are linked to receding Arctic sea ice, Hoerling disagrees, as does his study's co-author, Richard Seager of Columbia University. Both Hoerling and Seager feel claims of global warming being connected in this case are "not valid."

Because computer simulations incorporating conditions of man-made global warming did not result in a drought in Hoerling's study, he has determined that there is then no connection to be made. Employing similar methods, Hoerling did discover there could be a link between climate change and the rise of droughts in the Mediterranean Sea region, and that the Texas heat wave of 2011 could be linked to greenhouse gases.

Federally-funded university-run research center National Center for Atmospheric Research climate analysis chief Kevin Trenberth says Hoerling's report is apocryphal. It is Trenberth's feeling that Hoerling's study "did not take into account the lack of snowfall in the Rockies the previous winter and how that affected overall moisture in the air. Nor did the study look at how global warming exacerbated the high pressure system that kept the jet stream north and the rainfall away."

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you feel global warming is linked to the drought? Let us know your feelings in the comments below.

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