Climate Change Exacerbates Drought

March 25, 2009

With higher temperatures comes a drop in rainfall, according to Peter Baines of Melbourne University in Australia. Baines studied data over the last 50 years that includes sea surface temperature and precipitation rates and concluded that over the past 15 years rainfall has been dropping with 37% of that drop attributable to climate change. This downward trend that the world is experiencing in rainfall is exacerbates droughts and heat waves. Australia is currently in the midst of a decade long drought that is significantly impacting the production of foodstuffs. Baines noticed in his study that four regions of the world have already displayed decreases in rainfall: United States, southeastern Australia, a large region of equatorial Africa and the Altiplano in South America. Two regions have actually received more rainfall, northwestern Australia and the Amazon Basin. Much of these drops in rainfall are in line with IPCC report projections. Though drought is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the fact that a major percentage of the drop in rainfall can be directly correlated to climate change is an alarming finding. What this indicates is that climate change creates conditions that are inhospitable to rain in many places, meaning that if an area is already drought prone, climate change will certainly make it worse. This is bad news for anyone and anything that relies on a consistent source of water to live. As rainfall gets less predictable in a warming world, it will be hard to count on crop yields — putting farmer livelihoods and national food security at risk. Protect food and water, fight climate change now. (Image sourced from