Dust Bowl drought of the 1934 was the worst dry spell in modern memory. Farms failed to grow crops, livestock starved and the event was dubbed as the worst drought in the past millennium.
NASA scientists has confirmed that the 1934 Dust bowl drought is the worst ever in the history of the North America. It was actually 30 percent more ferocious than the second worst dust bowl drought.
Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and a co-author of the study said, “Not only did 1934 [the first year of the Dust Bowl] stand out in terms of extent and intensity, but it was the worst by a fair margin.”
The drought got its name from a period in April 1934 when whirlwinds raised huge dust storms from the US Great Plains as far east as North Carolina and as far south as Florida.
Using the North American Drought Atlas, a 2,005-year record obtained from tree-ring chronologies which re-enacted the drought and precipitation patterns, Cook and his colleagues found that the drought of 1934 covered 70% of West North America and 30% more intense than the second most severe drought in the region, which happened in 1580.
The researchers set out to unravel the causes of the 1934 drought. Earlier studies which was spear headed by Siegfried Schubert of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland had pinned the blame on sea surface temperatures which were marginally cooler in the Pacific and warmer in the Atlantic.
The latest team of researchers however opines that the drought was caused by the change in atmospheric circulation: a high-pressure ridge centered over the west coast of North America during the autumn and winter of 1933–1934 that blocked wet weather from California and the Northwest.
Simon Wang, a climate scientist at Utah State University in Logan said, “Whenever you see drought, there is always a ridge. But last year’s ridge was a record. The question is what’s causing it to amplify?”
Cook and colleagues, in their latest analysis have driven home the fact that the most famous drought in American history was aggravated by human activity.