Climate Scientists Predict a Texas Drought "Worse Than We Imagined" And a Changing Coast

Categories: Environment

jack's boots.jpg
Brandon Thibodeaux
Localizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's most confident, depressing predictions yet is no mean feat for journalists. Which is why it helps when actual experts do it for you. Texas Climate News sought out the state's finest climatologists, oceanographers and public-policy experts. If nothing else, their responses make clear that the Lone Star State is headed for a new normal. Pretending it isn't happening is not a viable option.

Thousands of the world's climate scientists have concluded that the warming identified in the atmosphere and in the oceans is primarily driven by humans, with a degree of confidence similar to the connection identified between smoking and lung cancer. The forecast is the same, but more specific: a warmer climate, more heat waves, a rising sea level, more heavy precipitation events and, in Texas and much of the central U.S., a tendency toward the dry.

What's interesting is that while forecasting a drier region, the report relies on a 2008 paper that found reduced drought. The ongoing drought completely changes the calculus. "This drought has almost singlehandedly put an end to the trend of reduced drought frequency and intensity that Texas had been experiencing," state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon told TCN. "The latest IPCC report is mostly just an incremental update of something we already knew. The [continuing] drought of 2011-20xx has taught us something we didn't know: Rather than being a thing of the past, Texas drought can be worse than we imagined."

Rising oceans too have dire implications for the Texas Gulf Coast. A global sea-level rise of 0.5 millimeters per year over the last 4,000 years has accelerated to 2.5 millimeters per year in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, according to Rice University oceanography professor and Shell Center for Sustainability academic director John Anderson.

"Regardless of where you are in that debate, the fact is that sea level, as measured at Pier 21 in Galveston, has risen two feet since 1908," says Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M. "Half of that was due to subsidence but the other half was due to climate change. Anyone who wants to stick their head in the sand about that reality is likely to drown if they keep it there too long."

Yet that is exactly what our state officials are doing. As Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chair Bryan Shaw said during the Texas Tribune Festival, "What we see is greater and greater uncertainty."

He went on to say that it wasn't clear that carbon dioxide is making climate change worse.



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

As Professor of Meteorology Dr. Richard Lindzen at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences observed, “The latest IPCC report truly sank to the level of hilarious incoherence – it is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going.”

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Until the last drop of water flows out of Tom Hicks' sprinklers, ain't nothing gonna change.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Regardless of which side of climate change/global warming you come down on, water is running out in Texas.   Tell me; whats the odds any major municipality will actively enforce water restrictions and encourage xeriscape yards?

schermbeck
schermbeck

You forgot to mention that Shaw is an expert...in poultry science.

g.edward.willis1979
g.edward.willis1979

One day the citizens of Texas will wake up and realize they have sold the long term welfare of the state to corporate interests who will fly away in their private jets as soon as the water is gone. Rick Perry will be dressed in drag, serving them coffee.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

And yesterday Austin received 12 inches of rainfall. 

DavidNutzuki
DavidNutzuki

For 30 years science has NEVER agreed it “will be” a crisis, they agreed on nothing beyond “could be” a crisis so why are you lazy copy and paste news editors crying; “It WILL be a climate change crisis!” when science has NEVER agreed it WILL be a crisis?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Thousands of the world's climate scientists have concluded that the warming identified in the atmosphere and in the oceans is primarily driven by humans, with a degree of confidence similar to the connection identified between smoking and lung cancer.

Except that the warming that they "identified" isn't warming, making this more like the degree of confidence in the connection identified between second-hand smoke and cancer (which is, BTW, absolutely no connection.)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2425775/Climate-scientists-told-cover-fact-Earths-temperature-risen-15-years.html

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Does this mean I should get that houseboat franchise for Houston?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,” climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies said last month. “It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realize that’s nonsense.”

Global warming is real. It is partly man-made. It will make some things worse and some things better. Overall, the long-run impact will be negative. But some of the most prominent examples of extreme weather are misleading, and some weather events are becoming less extreme.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered a 600-page reporton extreme weather in 2011. It got little attention — because it is nuanced.

Global warming, in general, will mean higher temperatures. This causes more heat waves — more extreme weather. But it also causes fewer cold waves — less extreme weather. Many more people die from excessive cold than excessive heat, so fewer people will die from cold and heat in the future. By mid-century, researchers estimated in 2006, that means about 1.4 million fewer deaths per year. In the continental United States, heat waves in the past decade exceeded the norm by 10 percent, but the number of cold waves fell 75 percent.

Moreover, global warming will mostly increase temperatures during winter, at night and in cold places, making temperature differences less extreme.

Global warming will also cause more heavy rain; this is clearly more extreme. But warming will also help alleviate water scarcity — less extreme. About 1.2 billion fewer people are expected to live with water scarcity by the end of the century because of increased precipitation.

http://tinyurl.com/pn9t59k

One day maybe those who fled the Rustbelt will be able to move back . . .

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

That's because the drought's so bad, their office is dry and they can't get a drink.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

The number of misspelled words and typos on Unfair Park also seems to be rapidly rising.

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

The April 30, 2012 New York Times article included the comments of several other experts. Christopher S. Bretherton, an atmospheric researcher at the University of Washington, said Lindzen is "feeding upon an audience that wants to hear a certain message, and wants to hear it put forth by people with enough scientific reputation that it can be sustained for a while, even if it’s wrong science. I don’t think it’s intellectually honest at all." Kerry A. Emanuel, another M.I.T. scientist, said of Lindzen's views "Even if there were no political implications, it just seems deeply unprofessional and irresponsible to look at this and say, ‘We’re sure it’s not a problem.’ It’s a special kind of risk, because it’s a risk to the collective civilization."[60]

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Montemalone The upside is mosquitoes and West Nile will be concentrated to the over-watered lawns of Highland Park 

coddat
coddat

In Texas or in DFW? Because San Antonio actively promotes xeriscaping, has enforced water restrictions. This has resulted in one if the smallest per capita water uses in the country

kduble
kduble

@DavidNutzuki"A global sea-level rise of 0.5 millimeters per year over the last 4,000 years has accelerated to 2.5 millimeters per year in the Northern Gulf of Mexico"

Sounds like a crisis to me.

kduble
kduble

@holmantx"Many more people die from excessive cold than excessive heat, so fewer people will die from cold and heat in the future. By mid-century, researchers estimated in 2006, that means about 1.4 million fewer deaths per year."

vs

"One day maybe those who fled the Rustbelt will be able to move back."

We're going off into the realm of speculation. Is it not possible that the potential reduction in lives lost from milder winters could be offset by greater exposure to extreme cold were people to move farther north?

brantley.hargrove1
brantley.hargrove1

@P1Gunter Could you elaborate on the typos you found? I read through and didn't see anything, but I might have missed them.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@coddat Apparently San Antonio has better leadership than other large cities in Texas 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@brantley.hargrove1

@P1Gunter major typos were in the TGI Friday's article. In this one we have this sentence:

"Yet that is exactly what are state officials are doing"

Pretty sure you meant either our as or you didn't want that first are in there. That sentence makes zero sense.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...