The Coming Dust Bowl

Update: The paper is up, and Seager and his colleagues have put up an excellent web page explaining the results.
Story’s up over at the work site on Richard Seager’s paper being published on line by Science today:

Global warming is turning the Southwest into a permanent Dust Bowl, where the dry conditions of our worst 20th century droughts — the 1930s and 1950s — become the norm over the next century, according to new research.

Global warming will push our winter storm track, which brings the region much of its moisture, to the north, according to Richard Seager at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

Seager’s results, published on line today by the journal Science, sent ripples through the western water community as they began circulating this week.

Paper should go up later today at ScienceExpress. Here’s the abstract:

How anthropogenic climate change will impact hydroclimate in the arid regions of Southwestern North America has implications for the allocation of water resources and the course of regional development. Here we show that there is a broad consensus amongst climate models that this region will dry significantly in the 21st century and that the transition to a more arid climate
should already be underway. If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought, or the Dust Bowl and 1950s droughts, will, within the coming years to decades, become the new climatology of the American Southwest.


  1. But it’s not a crisis! And it won’t be right up until the moment it plants its dessicated teeth in our collective butt.

  2. This is due, Steve, IMO to two things: 1. humans cannot perceive change at these temporal and spatial scales, and 2. our denial skillset.



  3. Pingback: jfleck at inkstain » Blog Archive » Discussing the Coming Dust Bowl

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