What We Know About Climate Change and Drought

What We Know About Climate Change and Drought

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As farmers in the United States slog through the country’s largest drought in 50 years, a lot of people are asking about the connection between global warming and the arid landscape in the Midwest. Is climate change causing this drought? Didn’t the United States suffer worse droughts in the past? And what will happen if the planet keeps heating up?

Those aren’t simple questions. So here’s a guide to what we know about the link between climate change and drought. The best single reference on this topic is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2012 report on extreme events, which synthesized the existing scientific research. And the short version is this: Droughts have multiple causes.

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