Syria’s Drought Worst in 900 Years. Pure Coincidence, I’m sure.

March 3, 2016

New York Times:

Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.
The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and in a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increases in greenhouse-gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors: a weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation.

Colin P. Kelley, the lead author of the study, said he and his colleagues found that while Syria and the rest of the region known as the Fertile Crescent were normally subject to periodic dry periods, “a drought this severe was two to three times more likely” because of the increasing aridity in the region.

Dr. Kelley, who did the research while at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said there was no apparent natural cause for the warming and drying trend, which developed over the last 100 years, when humans’ effect on climate has been greatest.

Martin P. Hoerling, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whose earlier work showed a link between climate change and aridity in the Eastern Mediterranean, said the researchers’ study was “quite compelling.”

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6 Responses to “Syria’s Drought Worst in 900 Years. Pure Coincidence, I’m sure.”

  1. SmarterThanYourAverageBear Says:

    Sometimes correlation does point to causation. We are having far too many extreme events.


    • Global warming shifts the distribution, making cooler events on the whole less likely, warmer events more likely, extreme heatwaves far more likely, and both extreme flooding (due to higher evaporation over oceans and stalled weather patterns) and and extreme drought (due to higher evaporation over land and stalled weather patterns) far more likely. It tends to dry out the continental interiors. It further dries out due to evaporation the subtropics, and through the expansion of the Hadley cells causes storm tracks to move poleward (as mentioned in the video), drying out land that is now within an enlarged subtropics. And none of this is simply correlation. It is, for the most part, basic physics. The rest? Established trends that can be understood by means of climate models based upon well-established principles of physics.


  2. The photograph of the drowned child ranks with the most heartbreaking in all of journalism, such as the firefighter holding the dying toddler after the Oklahoma City bombing. It also illustrates the essentially ugly nature of all deniers, whether they recognize it or not: they would kill our children rather than forego their profits or political identities.


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