Drought in the American West: Worst Yet to Come?

Drought powerfully impacts ecological and agricultural systems, and in many areas is expected to increase in severity as a result of climate change.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/), parts of California and Texas currently suffer from “exceptional drought.” Are these droughts temporary abnormalities or are they the new normal in western parts of the U.S.? A new study by Benjamin Cook and colleagues aims to shed light on this question.

The authors used 17 different general

Tropical Extremes: High-impact Weather and Climate Events in Monsoon Regions

The processes that govern the variability of monsoons are poorly understood but profoundly important. These seasonal storms deliver water to billions of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and variations in monsoon strength can have devastating impacts on the inhabitants of these regions.  The fragmented state of the international community that studies the phenomena compounds the challenge of understanding and therefore predicting them. 

Rain Water Harvesting: An Adaptive Strategy for Tamil Nadu, India

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is an ancient technique to store water for domestic or agricultural use. It can be an important technology for regions where rainfall variability threatens water and food supplies and economic security. As such, it has the potential to be an important adaptation technology for resource-limited communities to counter the increased variability of rainfall patterns from climate change. A review article in

South Australia Drought Attributed to Climate Change

Recent precipitation declines over the poleward and western margins of subtropical dry zones from North America to Australia are consistent with a reorganization of atmospheric dynamics attributable to global warming. But are these droughts attributable to anthropogenic forcings like increased GHG, aerosols and ozone, or are they within the realm of natural variability?  The answer is not always clear. In the case of California…

Climate and the Collapse of the Maya

The study of climate change, and realization that the Holocene, previously considered a period of great climatic stability experienced significant and dramatic disturbances, has occasioned new interdisciplinary study of the Maya, one of North and Central America’s great pre-Colombian civilizations. Scientists, anthropologists, archeologists, and historians have reinvigorated efforts to explain their sudden collapse, which took place from approximately 800-1000 CE in a period known as the Terminal Classic.

Global Food Security

Research published in Science highlights the potentially deleterious effects of climate change on global food security. As defined by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, food security has a number of components.  These include food availability, access and utilization…

Robust direct effect of carbon dioxide on tropical circulation and regional precipitation

Global warming simulations suggest that wet regions (where precipitation exceeds evaporation) will become wetter and dry regions drier by the end of the 21st century (e.g., Held and Soden 2006), with larger contrasts expected between dry and wet seasons (Chou et al., 2013). This ‘rich-get-richer’ behavior is consistent with a large increase in the moisture content of atmosphere, leading to enhanced horizontal moisture fluxes across regions.


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