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Ben Cook, a climate scientist from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has confirmed that, the 1934s dust bowl drought was the worst ever to hit North America for the past 1,000 year.
Recently, the NASA’s researchers together with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory renovated the history of droughts in the United States with the help of contemporary practices and tree-ring records from the years 1000 to 2005.
The dust bowl drought was caused by an inert, high pressure system that floated above the North American west coast for an entire winter, pushing wet weather away from the interior of the continent. Similar conditions led to droughts in both 2013 and in 2014 as well, though the dust storms that gave the region, its name in the 1930s also worked to discourage rainfall, the study claimed.
The scientists found that the 1934 drought covered more than 71% of western North America and was 30% severer than the next worst, which struck in 1580.
Ben Cook, study lead author and a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York stated, “It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record.” He further stated that, a high-pressure system during the west coast’s winter that kept raining at bay, combined with poor land management practices, led to dust storms in the spring.
As per the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Climate change will continue to strengthen the possibilities of strong droughts in North America.”
Currently, the scientists are searching for hints from the past events and also concerned that fossil fuels continue to burn at an exceptional rate along with fracking. These will fan the flames of climate change and can lead to mega-droughts lasting up to 30 years.
The study is due to be published in the Oct. 17 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.