The American Southwest is experiencing its most significant drought period in 1200 years, according to a recent study. Humans are to blame, the authors say. Is it true, or is there are another explanation hiding in the data? Background The American Southwest has a unique climate characterized by prolonged warm droughts punctuated with wet periods. This pattern has prompted the evolution of what is called fire ecologies – ecosystems that are adapted to fires during droughts. The most famous fire-adapted plant is the redwood in California.
An individual tree can live more than 2000 years and become unusually tall and wide. Redwood trees use extended wet periods to grow so broad that they survive when the forest fires inevitably come during dry spells. This survival strategy tells us that periodic mega-droughts are the norm in this region, not the exception. The Study The study, publ...
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