Originally published in Science Express on 5 April 2007
Science 25 May 2007:
Vol. 316. no. 5828, pp. 1181 – 1184
Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in
Southwestern North America
Richard Seager,1* Mingfang Ting,1 Isaac Held,2,3 Yochanan Kushnir,1 Jian Lu,4 Gabriel Vecchi,2 Huei-Ping Huang,1 Nili Harnik,5 Ants Leetmaa,2 Ngar-Cheung Lau,2,3 Cuihua Li,1 Jennifer Velez,1 Naomi Naik1
How anthropogenic climate change will affect hydroclimate in the arid regions of southwestern North America has implications for the allocation of water resources and the course of regional development. Here we show that there is a broad consensus among climate models that this region will dry in the 21st century and that the transition to a more arid climate should already be under way. If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades.
1 Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical
Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
3 Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
4 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307, USA.
5 Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.