Climate scientists and climate models are in agreement that hydro-climate around the world will change as a result of rising greenhouse gas emissions. Considering radiative forcing components only, dry places should get drier and wet ones wetter. Are these changes already underway, however, and what is the significance of these trends vs natural variability?
Those are questions Richard Seager, the Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, asks in his first return talk at Yale since Carl Turekian’s passing.
Using studies undertaken as part of a 3-year NOAA funded program that led to over 50 publications in the past three years, he considers weather patterns in southwestern North America, the northeast United States, northeast Brazil, southeast South America, the Mediterranean and East Africa and their relations to sea surface temperatures over time.
Persistent drought and on-going famine in East Africa, he points out, are in contrast with predictions of the new CMIP5 climate model which predicts the area should in fact be growing wetter, a clear indication of where further work needs to be done if the tool is going to be of any use for aid organizations making long term funding decisions.