Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best Hookah Bar

Best Hookah Bar

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

Screens: See if you can spot the common thread that is pulling at the seams of the Texas film industry. On NBC’s The Night Shift, a stock-written staff... By Matt Stieb 8/27/2014
Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

News: Texas’ sweeping abortion law has already eliminated all abortion clinics south of San Antonio, and the last clinic west of the city... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 8/27/2014
Phô Nguyen Woos Phonatics

Phô Nguyen Woos Phonatics

Food & Drink: I don’t expect much from Vietnamese restaurants in the way of decor; it’s more not Chinese and not Japanese than anything. I certainly don’t expect... By Ron Bechtol 8/27/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

2011 Year in Review

Recall: Punishing drought just getting started in Texas

Photo: , License: N/A



Related stories


Natural weather cycles delivered the worst one-year drought in the historic record to Texas in 2011. Scientists examining tree rings had to go back as far as 1789 to find a worse one. It was global climate change, however, that supplied the added heat that further reduced precipitation and exacerbated an already ugly dryness into levels of record-breaking heat. When Texas state Rep. Doug Miller suggested that State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon had said climate change was not involved, the typically cautious, Bush-appointee offered the Current his correction: "Global warming contributed to the high temperatures, especially with this drought. So it enhanced evaporation and decreased water supply and therefore made the drought more intense then it would otherwise have been." Apart from the body-blow the dry stretch gave growers and ranchers (statewide herds were reduced by an estimated 600,000), the drought wiped out as many as 500,000 trees — possibly as much as 10 percent of the forestland — according to preliminary estimates from the Texas Forest Service.

Not only will drought continue through 2012, according to Nielsen-Gammon, but the current period of "enhanced drought susceptibility" could run into the 2020s. While Gammon's October report to the Lege fails to raise any climate-change alarms beyond suggesting that "an increase of several degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century in Texas is well within the realm of possibility" others have forecast as much — and worse — for some time. Back in early 2009, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program surveyed the range of international scientific literature to determine that the Western and Central United States is returning to an era of "megadrought" conditions capable of lasting for hundreds of years. And a paper published in the Texas Water Journal this December showing that state planners' need to adjust their assumptions about drought to better protect state residents. "Our reconstructions show … that a number of extended droughts of the past were longer and/or more intense than the 1950s drought," researchers from UT, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and the University of Arkansas write in "Extended chronology of drought in South Central, Southeastern and West Texas." Extended droughts have been "a consistent feature" of the region's climate since at least 800 AD, including "at least" four megadroughts that lasted between 15 and 30 years. "Current use by water planners of the 1950s drought as a worst-case scenario, therefore, is questionable," they write.

A column in the current Scientific American suggests that Australia's Millennium Drought — marked by dust- and fire-storms and a multi-year agricultural collapse that drove tens of thousands of growers out of the business — is a "wake-up call" for policymakers in the U.S. Southwest. "As the climate continues to change, smart water planning may help ease the impacts of unexpected and severe shocks that now appear inevitable," write the researchers from Oakland-based Pacific Institute. Expect 2012 to be a period of continued adjustment.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus