A record, but maybe not that unusual!
“I was driving across Oklahoma in early August, and it was drier than I have ever seen it. It was not just that things were brown, they looked almost burned, “says Kent McGregor, of the University of North Texas.
“This summer is one for the record books, but whether it is evidence for global warming is more difficult to say. Some climatologists say the increasing frequency of hot dry summers is perhaps an indication of global warming, but my research on the Great Plains, using instrument data going as far back as I can get, to 1895, says you can find similar periods.
“The Dust Bowl of the ’30s is a prime example, but in the early 1950s, there was a horrible drought in Texas and the Great Plains, with temperatures almost as hot as this summer. The ’50s drought remains the drought of record for water resources planning in Texas.
So are we seeing the consequences of global warming this summer in Texas? McGregor accepts the fact of global warming, but says, “I tend to be a little more conservative than my colleagues; global warming does not mean every place is going to be warmer. It looks like we have been having more fairly hot, dry summers in the last 12 or 13 years, but it is a little difficult to say this drought and heat wave are being caused by global warming, since we can find other periods with similar temperature anomalies.”
So this hot and dry summer could easily be a natural fluctuation rather than the result of burning fossil fuels, McGregor says. “These responses are frustrating, you don’t get the clear cut answer you want to have.”