According to the report, the drought caused roughly $11.4–$23 billion in economic losses in 2020—including impacts from associated wildfires. Economic losses for 2021 will also be substantial, and the drought is expected to continue at least into next year.
Drought Task Force news
For the past two decades, the southwestern United States has been desiccated by one of the most severe long-term droughts—or ‘megadroughts’—of the last 1,200 years. And now, scientists say the risk of similar extreme megadroughts and severe single-year droughts will increase in the future as Earth’s temperature continues to rise, according to a new study in Earth’s Future.
“There has always been natural variability in drought events around the world, but our research shows the clear human influence on drying, specifically from anthropogenic aerosols, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases,” said lead author Felicia Chiang from the University of California, Irvine.
In a new EOS Opinion Article, MAPP Drought Task Force leaders Rong Fu, Andrew Hoell, Justin Mankin, and Isla Simpson, working with NIDIS staff member Amanda Sheffield, describe the disastrous impacts droughts, heat waves and fires have globally. They also highlight new MAPP- and NIDIS-funded research that tackles the challenges of a drier, hotter, more fire-prone future.
The Drought Task Force’s rapid response will help us understand the ongoing drought’s causes, how our science is helping us understand the drought, to what extent climate change is playing a role, and how the event may evolve.
Building models that can appropriately capture plant-water interactions is critical in order to accurately simulate the onset and evolution of droughts and their cascading impacts throughout the Earth system.
A team of scientists found that a strengthened change in ocean temperatures from west to east (or gradient) in the tropical Pacific during the preceding winter is the main driver of more frequent heat waves in Texas.
NOAA’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections program (MAPP) and NIDIS have just launched an interactive presentation that analyzes and explains the historic drought that impacted California from 2011 to 2017. This presentation, called a “Story Map” takes users through a visual history of the drought, using images and graphs to provide an interactive and engaging experience.
“Flash drought” has become a popular term in the media, but the debate of what a flash drought really is has caused confusion that affects scientists’ ability to detect their onset, monitor their development, and understand how they evolve.