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Droughts can have extreme impacts on agriculture and other human activities. How will ongoing climate change affect drought risks? These and other crucial water resource issues are being addressed by GFDL scientists in collaboration with scientists from the United States Geological Survey and Princeton University.

GFDL Research

GFDL scientists have made a number of important contributions to the science of drought in a changing climate. These include early work by Manabe et al., highlighting the enhanced drought risk midlatitude summer climates from greenhouse warming; important studies on causes of the Sahel drought of the 1970s and 80s, southwest Australian rainfall decline, recent North American drought, impacts of aerosols on regional drought risk; and studies clarifying the roles of precipitation changes vs. temperature changes in causing droughts.

Drought is commonly driven by a shortage of precipitation, but the practical manifestations of drought on land are complex and multi-faceted. With the land model LM3, GFDL climate models now have the potential to represent drought response in terms not only of snow-water equivalent and soil moisture, but also of water-table depth, streamflow, lake levels, and plant water stress.

Research Highlights

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