Losing Summer Rain With Climate Change

One of the early effects of warming climates, first identified in the 1960s, is the loss of precipitation in the middle of continents, particularly at mid-latitudes and around midsummer. We may be seeing that this year with the drought in the central United States. The severe drought that raised alarm bells in May and June, affecting more than 25 states, had eased enough by August that crop totals came in within 20 percent of last year’s totals.

The United States is likely to see this pattern frequently in future summers if the climate theorists are correct. Southern parts of Russia and Ukraine may be affected in similar ways, and already arid areas of Kazakhstan could turn into a desert. Farmers can adjust, to some extent, by shifting planting times and planting crop varieties that are not so dependent on consistent rain, but even with adjustments, crop yields are likely to be more inconsistent than in the 20th century.

It is surely not a coincidence that the midsummer mid-continent drought pattern came up this year. The contiguous United States is seeing possibly its warmest calendar year on record.

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