Climate change makes 2022 summer drought much more likely

About 24,000 people died from heatstrokeThe 2022 northern hemisphere summer was one of the hottest ever recorded in Europe.It also brought severe heatwaves to regions of China and North America.

In addition, it was extremely dry, and the ensuing drought not only affected energy availability, but also caused significant water shortages, wildfires, and crop failures that raised food costs.

The potential impact of climate change on this devastating weather event is currently being investigated by an international team of climate scientists. Sonia Seneviratne, Professor of Land Climate Dynamics at ETH Zurich. Their study, published by the World Weather Attribution group, found that drought conditions in northern hemisphere soil moisture were at least 20 times more likely to occur as a result of human-induced climate change, putting crop production at risk. and increasing pressure on agriculture. Food prices and food security.

Severe agricultural and ecological drought

For their study, researchers analyzed soil moisture levels in June, July and August 2022 across the northern hemisphere, excluding the tropics. They also focused on Western and Central Europe, which has been hit by particularly severe droughts, resulting in significantly reduced crop yields. Soil moisture desiccation in the top 1 meter of soil, known as the root zone where plants extract water, is often referred to as agricultural and ecological drought.

Human-induced climate change has made agricultural and ecological droughts at least 20 times more likely in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, researchers have found. They calculated that drought conditions like this summer would be expected about once every 20 years in today’s climate. If humans hadn’t warmed the planet, agricultural droughts in the northern hemisphere would have happened about once every 400 years.

In western-central Europe, human-induced climate change has increased the potential for agricultural and ecological droughts by about three to four times. Although the results are not directly comparable due to the different sizes of the regions, this does not mean that Europe is less affected by climate change than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

According to Seneviratne, the summer of 2022 shows how human-induced climate change is increasing the risk of ecological and agricultural droughts in densely populated and cultivated areas of the Northern Hemisphere. .

High temperature as a man-made driver

Rising temperatures were the main cause of the increased likelihood of ecological and agricultural droughts, and changes in rainfall were relatively insignificant. A hot summer like this year’s would have been almost unimaginable.

Dominic SchumacherA postdoctoral fellow in the Seneviratnes research group and first author of the study, said of the analysis: Future summer droughts are likely to become increasingly severe and frequent as global warming continues.

Seneviratne explains that fossil fuel burning must be phased out to stabilize climate conditions and prevent further escalation of such drought episodes.


Source: Ani Climate change makes 2022 summer drought much more likely

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