Report

On the Cause of the 1930s Dust Bowl

Science  19 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5665, pp. 1855-1859
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095048

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Abstract

During the 1930s, the United States experienced one of the most devastating droughts of the past century. The drought affected almost two-thirds of the country and parts of Mexico and Canada and was infamous for the numerous dust storms that occurred in the southern Great Plains. In this study, we present model results that indicate that the drought was caused by anomalous tropical sea surface temperatures during that decade and that interactions between the atmosphere and the land surface increased its severity. We also contrast the 1930s drought with other North American droughts of the 20th century.

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