Download A great aridness : climate change and the future of the by William deBuys PDF


By William deBuys

ISBN-10: 0199778922

ISBN-13: 9780199778928

With its hovering azure sky and stark landscapes, the yankee Southwest is among the such a lot hauntingly appealing areas on the earth. but miraculous inhabitants development, mixed with the intensifying results of weather swap, is using the oasis-based society on the subject of the threshold of a Dust-Bowl-scale catastrophe.

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Additional info for A great aridness : climate change and the future of the American southwest

Sample text

The fundamental structure of the Southwest’s water budget points toward sustained and severe shortage. a model of the world’s climate, you begin by chopping the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land surfaces of the planet into units. A perfect model would describe every point within the biosphere, but of course the number of possible points is infinite, and you would need an infinite amount of computer processing power to describe them. So you compromise. You divide the atmosphere and the oceans and the land surface into pieces as small as you can afford to get onto a computer.

At my home in a rural mountain valley in northern New Mexico, the winter of 2001–2002 was so mild that a local bear came out of hibernation months early and ransacked my yard. It tossed chairs and tools and firewood about, grouchily searching for food. That winter was a bad one for the bear, but a good one for bark beetles, and once spring came, bringing weather so hot and dry the pastures never greened, you could walk among the piñons and hear a faint mechanical drone, as of a thousand tiny chisels rhythmically chipping away.

You also account for certain inputs: the amount of sunlight hitting Earth, which varies in luminosity, or volcanic eruptions, which change the concentrations of certain aerosols in the atmosphere. So then you have a whole mass of equations and you crank W H E N YO U B U I L D 32 A Great Aridness them forward. Basically you are simulating things at the timescale of weather—usually in half-hour steps. I have paraphrased here what Chris Milly tried to teach me about the modeling work he pursues at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) outside Princeton, New Jersey.

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