Nov 27, 2012

Climate Change Threatens Long-Term Sustainability of Great Plains

South Dakota
North Dakota
Nebraska
Kansas
Oklahoma
Texas
Montana
Wyoming
Colorado
USA
by
Melissa Gaskill
,
Scientific American
Image: National Drought Mitigation Center
Image: National Drought Mitigation Center

Rising temperatures, persistent drought and depleted aquifers on the southern Great Plains could set the stage for a disaster similar to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, scientists say.

Climate change has brought less rain as well as hotter temperatures that increase evaporation—forcing farmers to use even more water for irrigation. "We have agriculture systems in semiarid areas," says Katharine Hayhoe, professor and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. "We built these vulnerabilities into the system and climate change is the final straw that may break the camel's back"