You are here

Blog Posts: drought

  • Water Stress Magnifies Drought’s Negative Impacts throughout the United States

    Years of Living Dangerously, a new Showtime series about climate change, turned its lens on how drought devastated the small town of Plainview, Texas in its first episode. In Plainview—and every other drought-stricken place across the United States—a precipitous drop in rainfall is only part of a much broader story. Underlying water stress is one important piece of that complicated puzzle. When drought strikes where baseline water stress is high, it exacerbates regions’ water woes.

  • Amidst California’s Drought, an Opportunity for Action

    As news of California’s epic drought continues to reverberate around the nation, a meeting today may offer some hope. The President’s Task Force on Climate Resilience and Preparedness will convene in Los Angeles, California today for the next round of meetings to determine ways the federal government can assist local efforts to address and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The group represents a significant opportunity to bridge the gap between local and federal climate action.

  • Q&A with African Risk Capacity: How Innovative Financing Models Can Build Climate Change Resilience

    Communities across the world continue to experience weather-induced food shortages due to drought, floods, devastating wildfires, and other climate change impacts. This week, the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF)is meeting to discuss how the GCF will receive and disburse money through various financial inputs and instruments.

  • Extreme Weather: A Mixed Bag for Dead Zones

    This post was co-authored with Bob Diaz, a WRI partner and professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

    This year’s extreme weather events—a warm winter, even warmer summer, and a drought that covered nearly two-thirds of the continental United States—has certainly caused its fair share of damages. But despite the crop failures, water shortages, and heat waves, extreme weather created at least one benefit: smaller dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico.

    On a normal year, rain washes pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorous from farms and urban areas into the two bodies of water, fueling algae growth. When this algae dies, it consumes oxygen and creates hypoxic areas, or “dead zones,” which can kill fish and other marine life. Less rain this year meant fewer pollutants making their way into the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico. The Chesapeake Bay’s summer dead zone was the smallest since record-keeping began in 1985, and the Gulf of Mexico’s covered one of the smallest areas on record.

  • Summer 2012: The Season of Record-Breaking Extreme Weather

    This post was co-authored by Forbes Tompkins, an intern with WRI's Climate and Energy Program.

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    The summer of 2012 is poised to go down as a record-breaker. (And no, we’re not talking about the Olympics).

    Extreme weather and climate events continue to make headlines throughout the United States. Last month marked the end of the warmest 12-month period the nation has ever recorded. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently declared July to be the hottest month ever in the United States since the government began recording temperatures in 1895. And already, 2012 has seen more temperature records tied or broken than in all of 2011, a year with an unprecedented 14 extreme weather events in the United States, each causing more than $1 billion in damages.

  • The Missing Link: Droughts, the Economy and Climate Change

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

    The effects of the vast drought afflicting America’s farm belt are rippling across the economy. Major companies apparently feeling the heat from rising crop prices include McDonald’s, Smithfield Foods, and Archer Daniels Midland, which processes agricultural commodities.

    More than half of the nation’s pasture and rangeland is now plagued by drought – the largest natural disaster area in U.S. history. And with corn prices soaring as crops wither, other sectors are nervously watching the weather forecasts and assessing potential impacts on their business. For example:

  • The Science Behind the U.S. Drought

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    Heat and drought continue to blanket the United States, leaving 54 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland, 38 percent of its corn crop, and 30 percent of soybeans in “poor” or “very poor” condition. As of the end of June, 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate or extreme drought – the most extensive drought in more than half a century (see map from last week’s US Drought Monitor).

  • U.S. Drought Demonstrates Complexity, Severity of Water Risk

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    As much of the United States continues to suffer through what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, there is growing concern over how broad and severe the impacts may be. Events like this drought—which are projected to become increasingly common should climate change continue unabated—provide a sharp reminder of how heavily communities and global economies rely on water.

    They also teach another lesson: Natural resource challenges like water scarcity cannot simply be viewed as environmental issues. They are real, material drivers of risk that governments, businesses, and investors must carefully consider in the context of the global economy.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletters

Get the latest commentary, upcoming events, publications, maps and data. Sign up for the biweekly WRI Digest.