Study predicts more extreme weather like 2011 Texas drought, thanks to global warming

Play Video Play Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% Remaining Time -0:00 This is a modal window.
Foreground — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Opaque Background — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent Window — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent Font Size 50% 75% 100% 125% 150% 175% 200% 300% 400% Text Edge Style None Raised Depressed Uniform Dropshadow Font Family Default Monospace Serif Proportional Serif Monospace Sans-Serif Proportional Sans-Serif Casual Script Small Caps Defaults Done Extreme weather such as floods, droughts and heat waves are likely to become more frequent in coming years because of global warming, according to a new study.
Human-caused global warming will be associated with more extreme jet stream patterns, which will lead to more extreme weather, says a study published in Science Advances and released this week.
QRA is short for quasi-resonant amplification, which refers to extreme and unusual jet stream patterns.
The study mentions examples such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat waves, and the 2011 Texas and Oklahoma heat wave and drought.
Texas had its driest year on record in 2011, according to the National Weather Service.
The lack of rain that year put more than 97 percent of the Lone State State in a severe drought condition, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
A briefing for the Texas Legislature by the Office of the State Climatologist reported that the 2011 drought was “susceptibility due to global ocean temperature patterns.” The report added that while global weather patterns “tend to reverse themselves over time” in the future “the safest bet is that global temperatures will continue to increase, causing Texas droughts to be warmer and more strongly affected by evaporation.” These extreme weather events are likely to increase “under business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, keeping in mind our assumption that the historically defined fingerprint remains valid in the future climate,” the study said.
But that figure varies among model simulations and could increase by even more, “roughly tripling” the number of events.
Although so much consistent rainfall can be concerning, National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Carlaw said it’s difficult to definitively connect two consecutive months of record-setting rain to something such as climate change.

This small molecule could have a big future in global food security

Researchers at the University of Arizona have found a promising way to prevent the loss of millions of tons of crops to a fungus each year, offering the potential to dramatically improve food security, especially in developing countries.
The team’s approach uses transgenic corn plants that produce small RNA molecules that prevent fungi from producing aflatoxin, highly toxic substances that can render an entire harvest unsafe for human consumption even in small amounts.
Although extensive field testing will have to precede widespread application of the new technique in agricultural settings around the world, the results of the study, published in Science Advances, showed that transgenic corn plants infected with the fungus suppressed toxin levels below detectable limits.
Unlike in the U.S., where crops intended for human consumption are tested for aflatoxin and incinerated once levels approach 20 parts per billion (equivalent to one drop of water in a 22,000-gallon pool), no testing is available in many developing parts of the world, especially in Africa, where millions of people depend on consuming what they harvest.
The modified corn plants carry a genetic blueprint for small RNA molecules, each only about 20 base pairs long, only in the edible kernels, not the whole plant.
"The corn is constantly producing that RNA during the entire development of the kernel," Schmidt explained.
In their experiments, the team infected corn plants with Aspergillus and let them grow for one month.
The team took the project a step further and investigated overall gene expression in kernels to see if the transgenic corn plants come with undesired side effects.
This involved co-author Rod Wing’s laboratory, also of the UA’s School of Plant Sciences, to compare thousands of RNA transcripts between the nontransgenic control kernels and transgenic kernels.
"This corn plant would be like any other," she said.