Combined droughts and heatwaves are occurring more frequently in several regions across the US

September 23, 2020

The frequency of combined droughts and heatwaves - which are more devastating when they occur in unison - has substantially increased across the western U.S. and in parts of the Northeast and Southeast over the past 50 years, according to a new study. The findings also suggest areas that experience compound dry-hot extremes are growing less scattered and more connected, resulting in larger impacted regions that place enormous strain on regional and national relief efforts. "Episodes of extreme dryness and heat are the recipe for large forest fires," said Mojtaba Sadegh, the senior author of the study. "These extremes are intensifying and extending at unprecedented spatial scales, allowing current wildfires to burn across the entire U.S. west coast." Climate risk analyses have typically focused on shifts in one climate parameter at a time, such as changes in heatwave magnitude or trends in aridity. But while multiple extreme events rarely occurred at the same time in the past, they have begun to coincide more often as climate change progresses. To better understand how the frequency of concurrent droughts and heatwaves has changed over time in the contiguous U.S., Mohammad Reza Alizadeh and colleagues analyzed combined dry-hot extremes using 122 years of climate data based on ground observations. While most prior analyses of these concurrent events rely on post-1950s data, the researchers extended their analysis to cover the years 1896-2017, incorporating the 1930s megadrought that, combined with inappropriate farming practices, led to the Dust Bowl phenomenon. The findings indicate that the climate factors driving concurrent droughts and heatwaves has shifted from lack of precipitation in the 1930s to excess heat in recent decades. The authors suggest their findings may be used to bolster risk assessment frameworks and inform climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Data Articles from Brightsurf:

Keep the data coming
A continuous data supply ensures data-intensive simulations can run at maximum speed.

Astronomers are bulging with data
For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy's bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way's formation and history.

Novel method for measuring spatial dependencies turns less data into more data
Researcher makes 'little data' act big through, the application of mathematical techniques normally used for time-series, to spatial processes.

Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices
As data accumulates on COVID-19 cases and deaths, researchers have observed patterns of peaks and valleys that repeat on a near-weekly basis.

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.

Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.

Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.

Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.

Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.

Read More: Data News and Data Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.