In DepthClimate

Past megadroughts hit North and South America in tandem

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Science  03 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6473, pp. 10-11
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6473.10

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Summary

For several decades, scientists have suspected that decadeslong droughts occurred in North and South America simultaneously during medieval times. Until recently, however, there were not enough tree ring measurements from South America to confirm this. Now, new work presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which uses nearly 3000 paleoclimate records to guide a global climate model, has found that these megadroughts often did occur simultaneously, and were frequently driven by unusually frequent and severe La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean. The research reveals a heightened hemispherewide risk should such megadroughts become more frequent with global warming.

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