DUST BOWLS IN THE 21st CENTURY
By many measurements, last summer’s drought was one for the record books. But widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal.” Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires. On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Christopher A. Williams, an expert on the magnitude and effects of this decade’s extreme droughts. We'll discuss the current severe drought conditions being experienced throughout many parts of North America in the context of historic droughts, and the role that climate change is playing in the intensification of extreme weather events. Are we headed for another dust bowl?
Christopher A. Williams is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Trained as a land surface hydrologist and ecosystem scientist, Chris investigates how earth's biosphere responds to natural and human perturbations. His approach combines field, lab, and remote sensing data with process-based modeling aimed at understanding how terrestrial biophysical and biogeochemical processes are influenced by hydroclimatic variability and disturbance. His research spans leaf to global scales, with regional focus on Africa and North America.
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