|Drought impacted trees in Sequoia National Park. Photo: Nate Stephenson, USGS|
The next mega-droughts and subsequent active wildfire seasons for the western U.S. might be predictable a full year in advance with the help of a new model based on tropical climate variability, global climate change and the natural filtering effects of soils.
An international team of scientists from the U.S., South Korea and the United Kingdom tackled the challenge of predicting multi-year droughts that reach beyond the seasonal timescales to which they are currently limited.
The team's research shows that in addition to contributions from natural forcings and global warming, temperature differences between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans play a role in causing drought and increasing wildfire risks. The findings indicate that a warm Atlantic and relatively cold Pacific enhance the risk for drought and wildfire in the southwestern U.S.