It’s turning out that one of global warming’s most serious consequences, already here, is the increased prevalence of serious droughts. According to some new NCAR research, drought-striken land area has more than doubled from the 1970s to the early 2000s, with rising global temperatures a major reason.
The fraction of global land area experiencing very dry conditions rose from about 10 to 15 percent in the early 1970s to about 30 percent by 2002. Almost half of that change is due to rising temperatures rather than decreases in rainfall or snowfall, according to the researchers.
Scientists are warning that global climate change will bring increased weather extremes, but it’s more common to think of increased storminess instead of an increase in droughts. But droughts are an extreme weather event too, though they don’t get the glamour treatment.