The US is twice as likely to face a ‘dust bowl’ more devastating than what occurred during the Great Depression.
The stark warning comes from a study that used hundreds of climate simulations combined data from 1936 and present day greenhouse gases levels.
The results showed that if global temperatures rise more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, ‘dust bowl’ conditions could occur every 20 years.
Not only will the event bring intense heatwaves and massive droughts, but will also deplete the nation’s grain stores that would affect the world’s food system.
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Dust bowl conditions in the 1930s brought extreme heat waves from 1934 through 1939 – when the US was enduring the Great Depression.
During this time, the nation experienced its hottest summers on record.
The land was arid and crumbling as a result of heatwaves and droughts that plagued the plain states that were home to thousands of new settlers.
The dust bowl was also sparked by the new farming practices and replacement of native prairie vegetation.
The stark warning comes from a study that used hundreds of climate simulations combined data from 1936 and present day greenhouse gases levels
Tim Cowan, a researcher at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, and lead author of a study in Nature Climate Change, said: ‘The 1930s Dust Bowl heatwaves were extremely rare events that we might expect to see occur once in a hundred years.’
‘Under today’s levels of greenhouse gases, they are more than twice as likely to occur, with their period-of-return reduced to once in around 40 years.’
Global warming was present in the 1930s, but the weather and climate changes were extremely small.
But now, nearly a century later, human-induced climate change is very apparent and is resulting in dire consequences, said senior author Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environment Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
If extreme heatwaves and drought reduce the vegetation as they did in the 1930s, heatwaves could become even stronger, threatening global food supplies,’ she said in a statement.