A network of interdisciplinary scholars studying past climate change
A new study by Cook and collaborators at NASA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that 1934, the start of the Dust Bowl, was the worst North American drought of the past millennium. Using the updated tree-ring based North American Drought Atlas, the authors found that the drought was exceptionally intense and affected over 70% of Western North America, making it considerably worse than even the “megadrought” of the 1580s (if not of the same duration). The authors argue that despite a strong La Niña event, sea surface temperature forcing was not a major factor (cf. Schubert et al. 2004). The exceptional strength of the event offers some circumstantial support for the authors’ earlier article arguing that dust from the eroded soils of the Dust Bowl amplified the drought, particularly during the spring.