A new study from NASA states that the drought of 1934 was the worst ever to hit North America in over 1,000 years.
Scientists got to this conclusion with the help of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University that engaged in a study that reconstructed the drought history of North America for over 1,000 years.
It’s estimated that the drought covered 71.6% of the western part of North America and in comparison the present drought of 2012 is affecting 59.7% of the same region. The estimates are based not on atomic tools or space satellites, but by counting none other than tree rings.
The researchers also found that thee were two primary conditions that they feel were responsible for the 1934 drought. A winter high pressure system that blanketed parts of the US’ west coast that pushed away wetter weather and land management that was not efficient that kicked up dust storms during the spring of that year that suppressed rainfall.
The combination of these two elements is what caused the drought the scientists say. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Professor Richard Seager and co-author of the study also emphasized that what made this drought so disastrous is the human factor, not nature. Poor farming and land management led to the destruction.
Present data says the current drought in the western part of the US will continue to worsen due to climate change and the southwest is destined to become much more drier and similar to the summers in the central plains.
It’s of interest that the tool needed to estimate the years of drought resorted to tree rings and not high technology. The present drought is costing the local economies greatly and in time will devastate both real estate prices and other areas of investment and commerce. Food production is also a problem. Without fresh water for the municipalities and farms means seeking other sources of food production.
Tourism, hotels, theme parks are also going to suffer and since drought is a setting place for wildfires, the safety of the public and property are the primary issue.
It’s good the scientists are studying here and now and perhaps will come up with conclusions that put to practical use can stem disaster.