Global Warming Did Not Cause Southeast Drought

(p. A13) The drought that gripped the Southeast from 2005 to 2007 was not unprecedented and resulted from random weather events, not global warming, Columbia University researchers have concluded. They say its severe water shortages resulted from population growth more than rainfall patterns.

The researchers, who report their findings in an article in Thursday’s issue of The Journal of Climate, cite census figures showing that in Georgia alone the population rose to 9.54 million in 2007 from 6.48 million in 1990.
“At the root of the water supply problem in the Southeast is a growing population,” they wrote.
Richard Seager, a climate expert at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who led the study, said in an interview that when the drought struck, “people were wondering” whether climate change linked to a global increase in heat-trapping gases could be a cause.
But after studying data from weather instruments, computer models and measurements of tree rings, which reflect yearly rainfall, “our conclusion was this drought was pretty normal and pretty typical by standards of what has happened in the region over the century,” Mr. Seager said.
Similar droughts unfolded over the last thousand years, the researchers wrote. Regardless of climate change, they added, similar weather patterns can be expected regularly in the future, with similar results.

For the full story, see:
CORNELIA DEAN. “Study Links Water Shortages in Southeast to Population, Not Global Warming.” The New York Times (Fri., October 2, 2009): A13.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated Oct. 1st and has the title “Southeast Drought Study Ties Water Shortage to Population, Not Global Warming.”)

The research summarized in the passages above can be read in its full and original form, at:
Seager, Richard, Alexandrina Tzanova, and Jennifer Nakamura. “Drought in the Southeastern United States: Causes, Variability over the Last Millennium, and the Potential for Future Hydroclimate Change.” Journal of Climate 22, no. 19 (Oct. 1, 2009): 5021-45.

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