Human-influenced climate warming has already reduced rainfall and increased evaporation in the Mideast, worsening water shortages. Up to now, climate scientists had projected that rainfall could decline another 20 percent by 2100. But the Dead Sea cores suggest that things could become much worse, much faster.
Thousands of years before Biblical times, during a period when temperatures were unusually high, the lands around the Dead Sea now occupied by Israel, Jordan and surrounding nations suffered megadroughts far worse than any recorded by humans. Warming climate now threatens to return such conditions to this already hard-pressed region.
Richard Seager and Park Williams, climate scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, discuss how water will be affected by warmer temperatures, and how their research increases understanding of these issues.
Colin Kelley, an associate research scientist with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, studies regional climate in vulnerable areas like the Middle East in order to improve our ability to make forecasts, plan ahead and become more resilient to drought and other climate shifts.
A new study shows that dryness of the atmosphere affects U.S. grassland productivity more than rainfall does. The findings could have important implications for predicting how plants will respond to warming climate conditions.
As the American Southwest grows hotter, the risk of severe, long-lasting megadroughts rises, passing 90 percent this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, a new study from scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory says. Aggressively reducing emissions can cut that risk.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist Park Williams, recipient of a Center for Climate and Life Fellowship, is investigating the influence of climate change on droughts and wildfires.
Although El Niño is weakening, its ramifications continue to be felt around the world. Drought and resulting food insecurity is one of the major implications for southeast Asia, eastern and southern Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Sixty million are in need of emergency relief today, according to the United Nations.
Attributing Extreme Weather to Causes—Including Climate Change
New research and more powerful computer models are advancing scientists’ ability to tease apart the forces that can worsen extreme weather. In a new report, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences that includes Columbia’s Adam Sobel assesses the young field of attribution studies.
“If climate change is having an impact and is making droughts worse, then we should see this in the record over several centuries—and we do,” said the study’s author, Benjamin Cook.