I’ve heard of data centers shutting down due to water main problems. The availability of water is going to diminish around the world. MSNBC reports on a computer model showing record droughts.
Future droughts will be shockers, study says
1970s Sahel disaster will seem mild compared to areas by 2030s, models project
Courtesy Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews, redrawn by UCAR
This map illustrates the potential for drought by 2039, based on current projections of future greenhouse gas emissions. The map uses the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which assigns positive numbers when conditions are unusually wet, and negative numbers when conditions are unusually dry. A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought. Blue or green regions will likely be at lower risk, while those in the red and purple spectrum could face more unusually extreme drought.
Increasing drought has long been forecast as a consequence of warming temperatures, but the study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research projects serious impacts as soon as the 2030s. Impacts by century's end could go beyond anything in the historical record, the study suggests.
How bad are the numbers?
To get an idea of how severe droughts might get, scientists use a measure called the Palmer Drought Severity Index, or PDSI. A positive score is wet, a negative score is dry and a score of zero is neither overly wet nor dry.
The most severe drought in recent history, in the Sahel region of western Africa in the 1970s, had a PDSI of -3 or -4.
By contrast, the study indicates that by 2100 some parts of the U.S. could see -8 to -10 PDSI, while Mediterranean areas could see drought in the -15 or -20 range.
"Historical PDSI for the last 60 years show a drying trend over southern Europe but nothing like those values at the end of this century," Dai said. "Decadal mean values of PDSI have not reached -15 to -20 levels in the past in any records over the world."
What areas are at risk?
Areas likely to experience significant drying include:
- the western two-thirds of the United States;
- much of Latin America, especially large parts of Mexico and Brazil;
- regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea;
- large parts of southwest Asia;
- southeast Asia, including China and neighboring countries;
- most of Africa and Australia.
Maybe putting a data center in Canada isn’t a bad idea?
While Earth is expected to get dryer overall, some areas will see a lowering of the drought risk. These include: much of northern Europe; Russia; Canada; Alaska; and some areas of the Southern Hemisphere.