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The drought that spanned three continents this summer and parched large parts of Europe, the United States and China is 20-fold more likely due to climate change, according to a new study.


The drought dried up major rivers, destroyed crops, caused wildfires, threatened aquatic species and led to water restrictions in Europe. It hit places already suffering from drought in the US, such as the West, but also places where drought is less common, as north-east. China also experienced its driest summer in 60 years, leaving its famous Yangtze River half its normal width.

Researchers from the World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists from around the world studying the relationship between extreme weather and climate change, say this type of drought would only happen once every 400 years in the northern hemisphere if it weren’t for human-induced climate change. They now expect these conditions to repeat themselves every 20 years, given how much the climate has warmed.

Environmental disasters such as widespread drought and subsequent massive flood in pakistan, are “imprints of climate change”, Martin van Aalst, a climatologist at Columbia University and co-author of the study, said.

“The consequences are very obvious to people and hit hard,” he said, “not only in poor countries like the floods in Pakistan … but also in some of the wealthiest parts of the world, like west central Europe.”

To investigate the impact of climate change on drying in the Northern Hemisphere, scientists analyzed weather data, computer simulation and soil moisture in all regions except the tropics. They found it climate change the probability of dry soil has increased significantly over the past few months.

This analysis was done using the climate warming already experienced so far of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit), but climatologists warned that the climate is warming, and the authors of the study took this into account.

With an additional 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming, such a drought would occur once every 10 years in western central Europe and every year throughout the northern hemisphere, said Dominik Schumacher, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland.

“We see this complex and cascading effect across sectors and across regions,” van Aalst said. “One way to reduce these impacts (is) to reduce emissions.”


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Citation: Climate change makes summer drought 20-fold (2022, October 5) retrieved October 5, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-climate-summer-drought.html

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