Ag Weather Forum

What 2012 And 1930s Droughts Shared

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
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Questions have been voiced during this past fall and into winter about whether there is any comparison between the big drought of 2012 and the Dust Bowl drought years of the 1930s. Were any environmental factors in play that offer any sort of comparison?

I posed that question in a Twitter note to the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (known as IRI). I got a reply from IRI communications officer Francesco Fiondella, and here is the transcription of his message:

"I spoke very briefly to one of our scientists here about any connection between the 1930s drought and the 2012 drought. He didn't really have much to add--there's no active research that we're doing here on that topic. He did say that the big worry is there is a negative PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) in the Pacific and positive AMO (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) in the Atlantic, so warmer Atlantic-cooler Pacific that happened during the protracted droughts of the 30s, and it happened also in the 2012 drought. So the connection is that there are similar setups and whether or not that's going to continue going forward from last year's drought is still a question."

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This is a potent comment. A brief way of saying what Mr. Fiondella told me is--"With the positive AMO and negative PDO, ocean patterns are in place that could indeed cause a repeat of drought conditions in 2013."

That's not a trite paraphrase. That is his message.

If you want to read more about the research that was done about 10 years ago on the relationship between the AMO and PDO when it comes to drought influence, you may go here:…


To follow my weather thoughts on Twitter, go to…


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