Friday, November 5, 2010

Northeast US Drought Getting Rarer

If readers will forgive me taking a parochial perspective for a moment here, I discovered this morning that Cornell University has a Northeast Regional Climate Center, including a drought page.  For this purpose, the Northeast is defined as these states:

Specifically, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

The drought page includes graphs of the percentage of the northeast in moderate, severe, or extreme drought at any given time.  Here "moderate" means PDSI below -2, "severe" means below -3, and "extreme" means below -4.

Here is the trend of "moderate or worse" drought:

And here is the "severe or worse" percentage area:

And finally, the fraction of the northeastern US in extreme drought:

As you can see, in all three categories, there is a fairly clear trend to less drought (though there are clearly decadal fluctuations going on as well).  So whatever climate models may say:

The actuality so far is that the northeastern US has been getting less drought-prone, not more.  So far, so good.

Of course, this is not to say that the northeast will be immune to the effects of drought elsewhere; clearly there are economic, political, demographic, and strategic channels through which those trends can be felt here too.

This post is part of a series on the future of drought.


Brett said...

Sounds like good news for the Northeast, particularly if they end up being in the prime path of northward migration over the course of the century.

Going Green said...

Last I looked (which was a few years ago), the tendency for it to be wetter now that it is warmer applies to more than just the Northeast US.

I hope you stick with the project for a bit Stuart.

Alexander Ac said...

"Sounds like good news" - well, not so much. World is highly interconnected so if large part of the world is doing badly, the rest of the world is not unaffected.... see financial crises e.g. as an early example...