From China to New York City, climate change is exacerbating drought conditions
As climate change makes droughts more frequent and severe, major population centers around the world are experiencing droughts this summer.
According to the National Weather Service, 36% of New York City’s metropolitan area — the most populous metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of more than 20 million — experiences “extreme” or “extreme” drought.
On Thursday, the US Drought Watch — a joint project of two federal agencies and the University of Nebraska — released its latest report listing the southern shore of Long Island and part of north-central New Jersey as experiencing a “severe drought.” The New York City neighborhood of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn is also severely dehydrated. For Brooklyn, which has a population of 2.5 million, this is the first severe drought in 20 years. Central Park in Manhattan averages 10.7 inches of rainfall from June 1 to August 11, but this year it has averaged just over 8 inches in that period, leaving many plants withered and lawns turning brown.
A local television channel, WNBC Channel 4, reported last week that local farms have been affected.
The outlet stated on its website: “The crops in New Jersey are noticeably smaller than before, or the plants themselves simply do not grow at nearly the same height, due to the dry conditions.” “Cornfields wither on their stalks, and the corn cobs are hardly fit for consumption. The apples are much smaller than usual by this time of year.”
Some local governments have placed restrictions on water use. The eastern end of Long Island, home to famous beachfront mansions in the Hamptons and vineyards on the North Fork, is in a “phase one water emergency.” Residents of irrigated lawns and gardens have been asked to stop watering between midnight and 7 a.m., in order to maintain water pressure to fight the fires. An area resident told Yahoo News that unirrigated lawns have turned visibly brown from the hot weather and lack of rain.
The New York City area is only one of many areas of the United States experiencing drought. Parts of eastern Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are experiencing severe drought. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Thursday announced a Phase Three drought level, which corresponds to a moderate drought, for Middlesex, New London and Windham counties, each of which have received roughly 60% to 65% of their normal precipitation so far this year.
Local government officials say climate change is the culprit, because warmer air causes more water evaporation and makes the water cycle more vulnerable to extreme fluctuations.
“Droughts are cyclical, typically occurring in New England every 10 years,” the Providence Journal reported last Thursday. “what or what [Ken Ayars, an official with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management] He notes, however, that droughts come every two years.”
“The intervals between droughts are shorter,” Ayars told the newspaper. “Compared to 2020, this is more important because it follows the previous drought.”
Drought in the Northeast is relatively minor, though, for two decades of massive drought across the western United States, severe 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 a number of jurisdictions, including parts of California. Earlier this month, the United Nations warned that the two largest US reservoirs – Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both created by dams on the Colorado River – are at “dangerously low levels”.
Summer droughts are not limited to the United States. In China, a nationwide drought warning was issued on Friday. Record droughts in the country have caused some rivers to dry up, causing significant economic damage. The Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world, reached a record low water level this summer.
As a result, hydropower plants operate at reduced capacity and stop charging. Sichuan province has halted or limited power supplies to factories, prompting companies such as Toyota and Tesla to suspend production. Last Saturday, the provincial disaster commission said 116,000 acres of crops were lost and 1.1 million acres damaged due to drought and heat wave in southwest China.
Rivers are also drying up in Europe, where a turbulent summer saw record heat waves across the continent, killing thousands and the number of wildfires that were on pace to be the worst year ever. The Loire River in France is currently unnavigable due to drought.
The tributaries of the Loire have completely dried up. Eric Suquet, head of the hydrology department at France’s National Institute of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, told Reuters last Wednesday.
“Looking ahead, as the frequency of extreme weather events appears to be on the cusp of growing, the future could be even bleaker,” Bernice Lee, chair of the advisory board for the Sustainability Accelerator at Chatham House in London, told The Guardian. Monday.
In addition to the fact that warmer temperatures increase evaporation and dry out soil and vegetation, climate change increases the risk and severity of drought in other ways. For example, many places rely on water from melting winter snowpacks to help maintain plant and animal life. However, the average global temperature has increased by 1.1°C (2°F) since the mid-1800s. This means that there will be less precipitation in the form of snow and more rain in the winter, and the rain will be gone for a long time by summer. Warmer temperatures in spring also mean the mass of snow will melt earlier and more quickly.
Attributing specific droughts to climate change is complex, but scientists are developing the tools to do so. A 2020 study in Science looked at changes in temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation between 1901 and 2018 in the western United States and found that climate change is responsible for 46% of the severity of the current drought.
Global warming also exacerbates droughts by increasing water demand, as animals and plants require more water in hot weather.
“Water loss from our tanks evaporating is higher,” Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, said in an interview with Yahoo News last year. “The demand for water from agricultural crops is greater. So the warnings that the climate and water cycles are changing, and that these impacts will be increasingly severe, are now a reality.”