It’s Not Just Global Warming. It’s Global Scorching.

drought-prediction

The warmer colors (red, purple) represent parts of the planet that are likely to experience the worst drought within the next few decades.

In some places, 2010 was the hottest year on record. Saudi Arabia – with its enormous swath of desert – was particularly hard hit, while Egypt stewed during a series of blackouts amidst brain-pickling heat. The discomfort of those painful summer months may have dissipated as temperatures begin to dip, but prepare yourself: in the next few decades, particularly around the Mediterranean, our brains could shrivel to nothing under heat and drought that our planet may never have experienced before.

Similar to the Richter scale that measures the severity of earthquakes, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) rates droughts. Negative numbers refer to dry conditions and positive numbers refer to wetter conditions. Though many northern latitudes will get wetter as warm air holds more moisture, dry southern and subtropical areas are likely to become so hot and so dry that the PDSI will no longer be relevant.     

UCAR-drought-prediction

This news was reported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and relies on data published by Alguo Dai, a scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Using an ensemble of 22 computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions, as well as analyses of previously published studies, the paper finds most of the Western Hemisphere, along with large parts of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, may be at threat of extreme drought this century,” according to UCAR.

drought-mediterranean

Based on current projections of greenhouse gas emissions and natural climate cycles but subject to  variability (cross your fingers we can bring down carbon emissions) these models estimate the possibilities. And the possibilities are alarming, to say the least.

According to the study, numerous regions, including the Southwest United States, Latin America, Africa, Australia, and SW and SE Asia, will experience rougher droughts, but countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea will become “especially dry.”

A climate change expert not associated with the study, Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory said to UCAR:

“…vast swaths of the subtropics and the midlatitude continents face a future with drier soils and less surface water as a result of reducing rainfall and increasing evaporation driven by a warming atmosphere. The term ‘global warming’ does not do justice to the climatic changes the world will experience in coming decades.  Some of the worst disruptions we face will involve water, not just temperature.”

Twenty-two countries border the Mediterranean. Among them are Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, for example, all of which already battle with hot and dry summers and attendant water shortages. The hotter it gets in dry regions, the less rain will fall, which means less soil moisture and fewer agricultural yields in turn.

map-of-drought-prediction

Up until now, it is rare to find droughts that fall under -6 on the Palmer scale, but this series of maps demonstrates that by the close of the century, the Mediterranean is likely to experience drought conditions that rate -15 to -20.

Failure to produce meaningful change in our carbon-choked social structure could literally burn us.

:: All images and story via University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

More on drought and high temperatures throughout the Middle East:

Syria’s Dustbowl Attributed To Wasted Water

Israel’s Shriveled Vegetables Will Increase Market Prices

High Temperatures Cause UAE Bed Bugs To Bite

Comments

comments

3 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Global Warming. It’s Global Scorching.”

  1. Maurice Picow says:

    Ouch! I feel it already! Read the Green Prophet piece I wrote about global warming a while back entitled The Fire This Time:

    http://www.greenprophet.com/2009/04/film-global-warming/

    That is supposed to be in 2017. But we’re here already.

  2. Robbins Mitchell says:

    It’s not ‘global warming’…it’s ‘eco-nazi panty wetting’.

  3. Denver says:

    “The polar bears will be fine.” – Freeman Dyson
    “All models are wrong, but some are useful” – statistician George Box

    1000 years ago, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings raised dairy cattle on the coast of Greenland. When it got cold, again, the Vikings left. Their dairy farms are still buried under glaciers. It is still too cold to raise dairy cattle on Greenland. When dairy is, again, a viable industry on Greenland, ie. when the climate reaches its Optimum, again, please let me know.

    Until the time, the planet is still in one of its cooler periods.

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