NOAA reports that global warming is harming humans right now in a dramatic way:
Wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible, according to a new analysis by NOAA scientists and colleagues at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
“The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” said Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Climate this month. “This is not encouraging news for a region that already experiences water stress, because it implies natural variability alone is unlikely to return the region’s climate to normal.”
The Mediterranean region accumulates most of its precipitation during the winter….
Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010. [Click to enlarge.]
The above is from a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “NOAA study: Human-caused climate change a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts.”
It’s a bombshell for three reasons. First, this NOAA team has not always found a human cause for extreme weather events, as Climate Progress discussed here. Second, the study found that global warming is already driving drought in a key region of the world: Climate change is harming a great many people now. Third, the analysis provides important confirmation of climate predictions that human-caused emissions would lead to drying: “The team also found agreement between the observed increase in winter droughts and in the projections of climate models that include known increases in greenhouse gases.”
This comes on the heel of the USGS study, that, despite its flaws still found, “The decrease of floods in the southwestern region is consistent with other research findings that this region has been getting drier and experienced less precipitation as a likely result of climate change.”
And these studies amplify the piece I had in the journal Nature this week that argued drying and Dust-Bowlification driven by climate change — and the impact on food insecurity — are probably the gravest threats the human race faces in the coming decades.
The fact that the NOAA analysis confirmed the climate models predictions of drying is especially worrisome because the climate models project a very dry future for large parts of the planet’s currently habited and arable land in the coming decades: