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Articles on Drought

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Corn yields can suffer in high heat. AP Photo/Seth Perlman

4 ways extreme heat hurts the economy

Much of the US has been experiencing heat waves in recent weeks. An economist explains how the often record-high temperatures can affect the economy.
In high alpine terrain, sun and dry air can turn snow straight into water vapor. Jeffrey Pang/WikimediaCommons

Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

As rivers run dry in the Rocky Mountains and the West, it’s easy to wonder where all the snow you see on mountain peaks goes. Some of it ends up in the air, but researchers aren’t sure how much.
In heat and drought like the western U.S. and Canada are experiencing in 2021, all it takes is a spark to start a wildfire. Jim Watson/Getty Images

Skip the fireworks this record-dry 4th of July, over 150 wildfire scientists urge the US West

Every year, the number of wildfires caused by humans spikes on Independence Day. There are safer ways to celebrate amid the heat and drought.
Juniper trees, common in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest, have been dying with the drought. Benjamin Roe/USDA Forest Service via AP

Trees are dying of thirst in the Western drought – here’s what’s going on inside their veins

Without enough water, trees can develop embolisms, similar to blockages in human blood vessels, and they’re more likely to die from drought or fires.
Colorado’s East Troublesome Fire jumped the Continental Divide on Oct. 22, 2020, and eventually became Colorado’s second-largest fire on record. Lauren Dauphin/NASA Earth Observatory

Rocky Mountain forests burning more now than any time in the past 2,000 years

Scientists studied charcoal layers in the sediment of lake beds across the Rockies to track fires over time. They found increasing fire activity as the climate warmed.
Satellites can quickly detect and monitor wildfires from space, like this 2017 fire that encroached on Ventura, California. NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens

Bringing tech innovation to wildfires: 4 recommendations for smarter firefighting as megafires menace the US

Satellites can already spot a new fire within minutes, but the information they beam back to Earth isn’t getting to everyone who needs it or used as well as it could be.
Migrants hoping to reach the distant U.S. border walk along a highway in Guatemala in January 2021. AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian

As more climate migrants cross borders seeking refuge, laws will need to adapt

Climate migrants don’t fit neatly into the legal definitions of refugee or migrant, and that can leave them in limbo. The Biden administration is debating how to identify and help them.
Heat and dryness are leaving high mountain areas more vulnerable to forest fires. David McNew/Getty Images

Western fires are burning higher in the mountains at unprecedented rates – it’s a clear sign of climate change

As the risk of fires rises in areas once considered too wet to burn, it creates hazards for mountain communities and for downstream water supplies.
Water flows from the Vaal Dam after several sluice gates were opened in February 2021. Heavy rains in the Gauteng province resulted in a spike in dam levels. Deaan Vivier/ via GettyImages

Why full dams don’t mean water security: a look at South Africa

Gauteng citizens need to know the uncomfortable truth: for the next six years, their water supplies will increasingly have to be restricted.
Wildfire smoke rises near Prince Albert, Sask., in May 2021, where a fast-moving wildfire led local officials to declare a state of emergency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis

How wildfires affect climate change — and vice versa

Recent wildfire seasons have been worsened by climate change. But wildfires also lead to additional climate warming when they release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
An almost-dry dam, surrounded by wheat fields, in WA’s wheatbelt region. Shutterstock

We found a secret history of megadroughts written in tree rings. The wheatbelt’s future may be drier than we thought

Our research found that in 700 years, the 20th century was the wheatbelt’s wettest. This means all our drought predictions are skewed.
Dry conditions across the West follow a hot, dry year of record-setting wildfires in 2020. Communities were left with scenes like this, from California’s Creek Fire. Amir Aghakouchak/University of California Irvine

Another dangerous fire season is looming in the Western U.S., and the drought-stricken region is headed for a water crisis

Drought conditions are so bad, fish hatcheries are trucking their salmon to the ocean and ranchers are worried about having enough water for their livestock.
The California Aqueduct, which carries water more than 400 miles south from the Sierra Nevada, splits as it enters Southern California at the border of Kern and Los Angeles counties. California DWR

Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Installing solar panels over California’s 4,000 miles of canals could generate less expensive, renewable energy, save water, fight climate change – and offer a solution for the thirsty American West.

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