So was the drought of 2012 the result of global warming and climate change—or was it simply “natural climate variability”? That question is generating considerable debate among weather experts.
A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concludes that last year’s drought was a “flash drought”—that it was not related to climate change, but to a reduction in moisture coming in from the Gulf of Mexico.
So what does USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey think?
“The jury is still out on the drought of 2012,” Rippey says. “Just to give kind of a ‘walking the tightrope’ response here, it’s a little bit too early to blame it solely on climate change—but that may have been a factor, or something that led to the development of the drought.”
And while the area covered by exceptional drought continues to shrink, Rippey isn’t convinced that the drought is totally broken. He thinks the southwestern U.S. especially, from California to the southern Plains, could be in for another hot and dry summer.
Rippey discussed the drought of 2012 Wednesday in a water lecture series presentation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.