From China to New York City, climate change is making drought conditions worse

From China to New York City, climate change is making drought conditions worse
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As climate change makes droughts more frequent and severe, major population centers around the world are experiencing drought this summer.

According to the National Weather Service, 36% of the New York City metropolitan area, the most populous metropolitan region in the United States, with more than 20 million people, is in a “severe” or “extreme” drought.

On Thursday, the US Drought Monitor, — a joint project of two federal agencies and the University of Nebraska — published its latest report which listed the southern shore of Long Island and a portion of north-central New Jersey as being in “severe drought”. The New York City borough of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn are also experiencing severe drought. For Brooklyn, which has a population of 2.5 million, this is the first serious drought in 20 years. Manhattan’s Central Park averages 10.7 inches of rain from June 1-1. August 11, but this year received just over 8 inches in that period, leaving many withered plants and brown grass.

New Yorkers sunbathing in Central Park

New Yorkers sunbathing in Central Park in July. (John Smith/VIEWpress)

A local television channel, WNBC Channel 4, reported last week that local farms are being affected.

“The crops in New Jersey are noticeably smaller than they used to be, or the plants themselves just aren’t growing as tall, due to the dry conditions.” reported the media on its website. “Corn fields are withering on their stalks, with ears of corn barely fit for consumption. The apples are much smaller than normal this time of year.”

Some local governments have instituted restrictions on the use of water. The eastern end of Long Island, home to the famous waterfront mansions of the Hamptons and the vineyards of the North Fork, lies on a “Stage One Water Emergency.” Residents with irrigated lawns and gardens have been asked to stop watering between midnight and 7 a.m., to preserve water pressure for firefighting. An area resident told Yahoo News that unwatered grass has turned visibly brown due to the hot weather and lack of rain.

The New York City area is just one of many in the United States experiencing a drought. Parts of eastern Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are in severe drought. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Thursday announced a stage 3 drought levelcorresponding to a moderate drought, for Middlesex, New London and Windham counties, each of which has received approximately 60% to 65% of normal precipitation so far this year.

Climate change is to blame, local government officials say, because warmer air causes more water to evaporate and makes the water cycle more prone to extreme swings.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Droughts are cyclical, typically occurring in New England every 10 years,” said the The Diario de la Providencia reported Last Thursday. “What [Ken Ayars, an official with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management] What you have noticed, however, is that droughts come every two years.”

“The intervals between droughts are shorter,” Ayars told the newspaper. “Compared to 2020, this is much more significant because it follows the previous drought.”

However, the northeast drought is comparatively minor, relative to a two-decade megadrought across the western US. Extreme drought conditions are currently found in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Oregon, among other states. Water use restrictions are already in place in several jurisdictions, including parts of California. Earlier this month, The United Nations warned that the two largest reservoirs in the US, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both created by dams on the Colorado River, are at “dangerously low levels.”

The increase in summer droughts is not limited to the United States. In China, a nationwide drought alert was issued on Friday. Record droughts in the country have caused some rivers to dry up, causing significant economic damage. The Yangtze, the world’s third longest river, reached record high water levels this summer.

Low water levels along the Yangtze River in China

Low water levels along the Yangtze River in China. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As a result, hydroelectric plants are operating at reduced capacity and shipping has been interrupted. Sichuan province has suspended or limited power supply to the factories, causing firms such as Toyota and Tesla to suspend production. The provincial disaster committee said last Saturday 116,000 acres of crops have been lost and 1.1 million acres have been damaged by the drought and heat wave sweeping southwest China.

Rivers are also drying up in Europe, where a summer of weather disturbances has set records. Heat waves throughout the continent, giving rise to thousands of deaths and the number of forest fires in rhythm be the worst year on record. The Loire River in France is currently barely navigable due to drought.

“The tributaries of the Loire are completely dry. It’s unprecedented,” Eric Sauquet, head of hydrology at France’s National Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Looking ahead, as the frequency of extreme weather events appears to be increasing, the future could be even bleaker,” said Bernice Lee, chair of the London-based Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator advisory board. he told The Guardian on Monday.

A dry pond in Smithville, Texas

A dry pond in Smithville, Texas. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In addition to the fact that warmer temperatures increase evaporation and dry out soil and plants, climate change increases the risk and intensity of drought. in other ways. For example, many places rely on water from melting winter snowpacks to help support plant and animal life. However, the average global temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century. That means less precipitation will fall as snow and more as rain in the winter, and that rain will be long gone by summer. Warmer temperatures in the spring also mean the snowpack will melt sooner and more quickly.

Attributing specific droughts to climate change is tricky, but scientists are developing the tools to do it. A study 2020 in the journal Science analyzed changes in temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation between 1901 and 2018 in the western US and found that climate change is responsible for 46% of the severity of the current megadrought.

Global warming also exacerbates droughts by increasing the demand for water, as animals and plants require more water in warmer climates.

“The loss of water from our reservoirs that evaporates is greater,” said Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. in an interview with Yahoo News last year. “The demand for water from agricultural crops is greater. And so the warnings that the climate cycle and the water cycle are changing, and that those impacts are going to be more and more severe, are now coming true.”


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