WSUV researcher studies climate, drought
She connects dots between climatic events and famine amid rising global temperatures The world’s most catastrophic drought and subsequently deadly famine of the last 800 years was less than a century and a half ago.
“The book talks about famine and social-political factors — mostly the causes and consequences of the famine; we got interested in the role of climate conditions in causing this famine,” Singh said.
Understanding that information will help scientists eventually predict the when and how of severe future droughts of such widespread and prolonged endurance, she said.
What’s more, they’ll be able to understand how those droughts impact societies and their effects on the global food supply.
They began research that led to the Oct. 4 publication of a paper in the Journal of Climate, completing work that Singh had continued working on after arriving at WSU Vancouver in June.
But El Niño, even an extremely powerful one, cannot affect the entire globe.
However, in 1876 through 1878, that extremely powerful El Niño occurred just as two other extreme climatic events took place, collectively creating the conditions for global starvation.
The same three conditions actually have happened again in the same way as the Great Drought, in 1997 through 1998, but not to the same level of severity.
While the much of the rest of the world —Australia, Brazil, North Africa, Southeast Asia — were in the grips of a dire drought in the late 1870s, the Pacific Northwest was immersed in an extremely wet period.
If history is any teacher, it could be severe.