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Odds of megadroughts- warming world can produce 30+ year periods of severe drought in western US

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December 14, 2017 Cornell University  read full ScienceDaily article here

To help untangle fact from speculation, scientists have developed a ‘robust null hypothesis’ to assess the odds of a megadrought — one that lasts more than 30 years — occurring in the western and southwestern United States…

….Using tree ring and other physical evidence, researchers determined that the American Southwest saw five megadroughts from 800 to 1300 A.D., a period almost as warm as it is today, though Ault explained that the causes were different, such as solar activity. Today, Ault and his colleagues want to know if an actively warming world can stimulate a megadrought.

….”It’s surprising that even with this simple statistical model, we can get megadroughts that are as prolonged, as severe and as widespread as the worst droughts of the last 1,200 years in the west.”…

Toby R. Ault, Scott St. George, Jason E. Smerdon, Sloan Coats, Justin S. Mankin, Carlos M. Carrillo, Benjamin I. Cook, Samantha Stevenson. A Robust Null Hypothesis for the Potential Causes of Megadrought in Western North America. Journal of Climate, 2018; 31 (1): 3 DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0154.1

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