Daily Archives: April 30, 2015

Wind to Blame for North American Drought

Thomas L. Delworth, Fanrong Zeng, Anthony Rosati, Gabriel Vecchi, Andrew Wittenberg. A link between the hiatus in global warming and North American drought. Journal of Climate 2015
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00616.1

Portions of western North America have experienced prolonged drought over the last decade. This drought has occurred at the same time as the global warming hiatus – a decadal period with little increase in global mean surface temperature. We use climate models and observational analyses to clarify the dual role of recent tropical Pacific changes in driving both the global warming hiatus and North American drought. When we insert observed tropical Pacific wind stress anomalies into coupled models, the simulations produce persistent negative sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern tropical Pacific, a hiatus in global warming, and drought over North America driven by SST-induced atmospheric circulation anomalies. In our simulations the tropical wind anomalies account for 92% of the simulated North American drought during the recent decade, with 8% from anthropogenic radiative forcing changes. This suggests that anthropogenic radiative forcing is not the dominant driver of the current drought, unless the wind changes themselves are driven by anthropogenic radiative forcing. The anomalous tropical winds could also originate from coupled interactions in the tropical Pacific or from forcing outside the tropical Pacific. The model experiments suggest that if the tropical winds were to return to climatological conditions, then the recent tendency toward North American drought would diminish. Alternatively, if the tropical winds were to persist, then the impact on North American drought would continue; however, the impact of the enhanced Pacific easterlies on global temperature diminishes after a decade or two due to a surface reemergence of warmer water that was initially subducted into the ocean interior.

Paper is here (fee).


Concurrent Exposure to Arsenic and Fluoride

González-Horta C, Ballinas-Casarrubias L, Sánchez-Ramírez B, Ishida MC, Barrera-Hernández A, Gutiérrez-Torres D, Zacarias OL, Saunders RJ, Drobná Z, Mendez MA, García-Vargas G, Loomis D, Stýblo M, Del Razo LM. A Concurrent Exposure to Arsenic and Fluoride from Drinking Water in Chihuahua, Mexico. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2015 Apr 24;12(5):4587-4601.

Inorganic arsenic (iAs) and fluoride (F-) are naturally occurring drinking water contaminants. However, co-exposure to these contaminants and its effects on human health are understudied. The goal of this study was examined exposures to iAs and F- in Chihuahua, Mexico, where exposure to iAs in drinking water has been associated with adverse health effects. All 1119 eligible Chihuahua residents (>18 years) provided a sample of drinking water and spot urine samples. iAs and F- concentrations in water samples ranged from 0.1 to 419.8 µg As/L and from 0.05 to 11.8 mg F-/L. Urinary arsenic (U-tAs) and urinary F- (U-F-) levels ranged from 0.5 to 467.9 ng As/mL and from 0.1 to 14.4 µg F-/mL. A strong positive correlation was found between iAs and F- concentrations in drinking water (rs = 0.741). Similarly, U-tAs levels correlated positively with U-F- concentrations (rs = 0.633). These results show that Chihuahua residents exposed to high iAs concentrations in drinking water are also exposed to high levels of F-, raising questions about possible contribution of F- exposure to the adverse effects that have so far been attributed only to iAs exposure. Thus, investigation of possible interactions between iAs and F- exposures and its related health risks deserves immediate attention.