I thought I was leaving the extremes of the southwestern desert behind as I traveled to the so-called temperate climate of the Midwest and the balmy tropics of Puerto Rico. But those areas, like much of the country these days, faced the kind of weather extremes that exemplify what’s ahead as the world warms.
Scientists have long known that megadroughts, droughts far more extreme than we have experienced during the last 100 years, have occurred from time to time in the Southwest. The 12th and 13th century droughts during medieval times are perhaps the most well-recognized (see blog on 12/4/10).
Mounting evidence points to a possible return of La Niña this fall. This is not good news for the Southwest where severe to exceptional drought conditions already cover much of Arizona and New Mexico (see drought map below).
A blog post circulating around last week caught my attention. It suggested, based on new census data for Texas, that the decline in rural population in arid, central Texas over the last decade was due to the impact of persistent drought on agriculture.