Claim: Droughts developing more rapidly says global study


By Paul Homewood

For the first time a new study has confirmed droughts across the world are developing more rapidly as a result of climate change.

The international study identifies flash droughts – which intensify in a matter of weeks – have become more frequent since the late 1950s over 74% of the world’s 33 global regions, especially those over North and East Asia, the Sahara and Europe.

The Met Office’s Dr Peili Wu is one of the paper’s authors. He said: “The transition to more flash droughts is being driven by a combination of rainfall deficit along with amplified rates of soil moisture loss.”

The paper highlights that the transition from slower-onset droughts to flash droughts is projected to expand to most land areas. This transition will become most pronounced with higher rates of global greenhouse emissions.

Obviously, a drought begins with a period with a relative absence of rain or snow. However, increased temperatures and sometimes stronger winds can rapidly amplify the loss of moisture in the soil, exacerbating the speed of the drought’s onset and impacts. This rapidity can lead to the creation of a flash drought. Droughts in their many forms can last for different time periods, from weeks to decades

This has all the trappings of a study written purposely to “prove” a preconceived agenda.

It is of course predicated on a half degree rise in temperatures, the sort of difference between temperatures in Sheffield and Birmingham. Does Birmingham have flash droughts and Sheffield none? Silly question really.

As Dr Wu admits, “flash droughts” do not actually exist, he himself had to invent the term a few years ago, no doubt to pin them on global warming.

The level of moisture in soils is governed by all sorts of factors, but particularly agricultural practices. To attempt to tease out a climate influence is to all intents and purposes impossible, as it would be undetectable.

But there are other serious issues about this study. The first is that global warming has made the world wetter on the whole.

The second is that extra CO2 in the atmosphere has helped to green the planet. In particular, higher concentrations of CO2 mean that plants lose less water to the air. In other words, transpiration is reduced.

Thirdly global cooling in the 1960s, 70s and 80s led directly to massively severe droughts across a wide swathe of the world, from the Sahel across to India and China. The cause was the expansion of the polar air mass which pushed the rainbelts towards the tropics.

Global warming does not lead to more severe droughts, whether flash or not – global cooling does.

Indeed, the world during the ice age was a very dry one, as cold air can hold less moisture. And it is dry air which sucks the moisture out of the ground like a sponge. That is why cold deserts like the Gobi are every bit as dry bas the Sahara.

There is very little global data with which to analyse droughts, but there is plenty in the US.

And NOAA’s data is quite explicit. Droughts are now much less severe than they were in the past.

I am quite sure that Dr Wu and his colleagues are perfectly aware of all of this. That is why they have invented flash droughts, which with some dodgy computer modelling has enabled them to claim something which does not exist.

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Tom Halla
April 17, 2023 6:07 am

Is a flash drought in England when it did not rain that day?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2023 6:15 am

Right- it must have terrifying- my condolences to the people of your nation. 🙂

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 17, 2023 7:09 am

Aye lad, we’d have nothing to talk about 🙂

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2023 9:07 am

No, in England there is a flash drought when today’s rainfalls are a bit less than yesterday’s

Joseph Zorzin
April 17, 2023 6:14 am

The NYT had an article on flash droughts last Friday. I know if hiking in gullies in desert areas you have to be concerned about flash floods- but flash droughts? Beyond crazy- clearly just more fear mongering.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 17, 2023 9:05 am

Ever see a flowing river recede upstream in a matter of seconds and dry up completely? Flash droughts man. Craziest thing I never saw.

April 17, 2023 6:25 am

Importantly, there must be a distinction between meteorological drought and hydrological drought.

The concept of a “flash” drought suggests it is the hydrology which is more flashy.

For example, a spongy landscape is less hydrologically flashy compared to concrete. A spongy landscape will maintain baseflows in creeks and streams for long periods.

Conversely, a landscape resembling concrete is very hydrologically flashy.

So, climatologists may be confusing changing catchment characteristics for so-called climate changes.

Reply to  JCM
April 18, 2023 5:34 am

Climatologists are easily confused.

Ron Long
April 17, 2023 6:25 am

Flash Drought? Contrived nonsense! Waiting for The Met to refund the money for this bogus study….waiting…waiting…..

David Dibbell
April 17, 2023 6:55 am

News flash! Periods of drought come and go. I like this NOAA link. Animated 12-month map of the U.S.

April 17, 2023 7:01 am

I hear the permadrought in CA is over………again.

Gunga Din
Reply to  captainjtiberius
April 17, 2023 10:39 am

It comes and goes.
“Climate Change” and all that.

April 17, 2023 7:52 am

>> have become more frequent since the late 1950s over 74% of the world’s 33 global regions, especially those over North and East Asia, the Sahara and Europe.

That seems to coincide well with NOA, the North Atlantic Oscillation, which has good correlation with weather pattern in that region.

Also, while it is conceivable, that a higher temperature might lead to some rapid dry spell amplified by more wind, on average you should expect more rainfall and also CO2 related greening.

Rud Istvan
April 17, 2023 8:14 am

Flash droughts increasing in the Sahara! Very difficult when soil moisture is already zero.

One wonders whether the author realizes what he said makes no sense.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 17, 2023 10:31 am

Yep, had to ctrl-f “Sahara”. Can’t believe I missed that one – the silliness is so dense it hurts.
But the authors have to say something when the conf call gets to their turn.

“… got my article published in…”.

Henry Pool
April 17, 2023 8:39 am

Ja. I don’t know what people did before they invented ‘man made’ climate change.
I did predict drought on the very high latitudes and obviously that also counts for the very low latitudes….

Reply to  Henry Pool
April 17, 2023 10:35 am

When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone,it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’

Last edited 1 month ago by KevinM
Henry Pool
Reply to  KevinM
April 17, 2023 12:11 pm

Sorry. Don’t get it. Drought is caused by nature, in this case, the sun.

April 17, 2023 8:48 am

The proper name for the “flash floods” is Atmospheric Rivers. They have been observed for centuries, and always occur during drought conditions brought about by increased temperatures, usually caused by extended intervals between volcanic eruptions, when there are no volcanic SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere to cause cooling.

See my article “The Cause of Atmospheric Rivers”

An important story tip, explaining what is presently happening to our climate.

Reply to  BurlHenry
April 17, 2023 10:40 am

Cloud seeding? (as a solution to rain nucleation starved by volcanic inactivity)

Last edited 1 month ago by KevinM
Reply to  KevinM
April 17, 2023 2:48 pm



But, globally, it would be a major effort, since SO2 aerosol levels have fallen so low (and are still falling because of Net Zero). But it could be used to improve regional conditions

Peta of Newark
April 17, 2023 9:17 am

“drought” being (yet) another item in The Emperor’s Wardrobe

We have got to have/introduce two separate and distinct sorts of drought

  1. The sort of drought when/where it hasn’t rained for an unusually long period of time – such a period being determined by the locale and what normally goes on there. (Some sort of average)
  2. The sort of drought where rivers & springs stop flowing and where landscapes dry out (plants that normally thrive wither/die) but where the rainfall has not been unusually low

and lord help us all – How on earth does anyone conceive of such a thing as a Flash Drought – the more you think about it the crazier it gets

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 17, 2023 10:38 am

I think that the thought process is something like, “Hey guys, is there some derogatory or pejorative word we can associate with things we want to denigrate, and trigger an emotional response from those we want to manipulate? It has to be catchy and counterintuitive, like an oxymoron.”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 17, 2023 8:07 pm

It’s one of those kind of stats that if you go looking for, you are likely to find….so fast onset droughts, slow onset droughts, double-humped camel killing droughts…if you are in charge of the definition, with a bit of “publish or perish” pressure, you can just change the goalposts until you have sufficient twaddle to draw running average through.

April 17, 2023 9:22 am

“Global warming does not lead to more severe droughts, whether flash or not – global cooling does.

Indeed, the world during the ice age was a very dry one, as cold air can hold less moisture. And it is dry air which sucks the moisture out of the ground like a sponge. That is why cold deserts like the Gobi are every bit as dry bas the Sahara.”

Wouldn’t be shocked to see the current negative Palmer drought index remain negative for a while.
Reply to  johnesm
April 17, 2023 10:47 am

You quoted the text showing the author knew better than to write the other words written.

Reply to  KevinM
April 17, 2023 2:32 pm

Not sure what your point is. I quoted the text saying that cold usually means it’s drier, and we’ve been having a never-say-die winter in the lower 48 plus Alaska. Our Palmer drought index has been low, and that should continue until it warms up (although Florida has been hit hard lately).

April 17, 2023 10:16 am

For the first time a new study has confirmed…” Really? How many studies were tried? What does “new” mean?

Reply to  KevinM
April 17, 2023 10:23 am

have become more frequent since the late 1950s” This looks like another example of everyone having to publish or perish – most measurements measured for less than 100 years matter long-term only if Earth is 6000 years old. If Earth is billions of years old, then whatever. I concede that only one millisecond of incoming direct-hit asteroid velocity measurements would matter quite a lot.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  KevinM
April 18, 2023 4:15 am

Took them a while to find the “period” to provide the desired “trend.”

April 17, 2023 10:48 am

Flash stupidity is on the rise.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 17, 2023 8:09 pm

Early onset Climentia.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 18, 2023 4:17 am

Actually it’s long duration flash stupidity. Comes on very quickly and hangs on seemingly forever.

Clyde Spencer
April 17, 2023 10:57 am

No statistically significant warming globally in nearly 9 years. A rise in global average temperature of about 0.5 deg C in the last 50 years. No evidence to support increasing frequency or severity in heat waves in the US since the peak in the 1930s [ ]. No evidence presented that Earth has become more windy, or even an argument why the Arctic warming faster than the rest of the world shouldn’t result in less wind. And, the author expects the public to accept his oxymoron with open arms — based on his model.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 17, 2023 2:12 pm

 why the Arctic warming faster than the rest of the world

Say what ??

Data does not support that comment.

Apart from a spike from the 2015 El Nino, now gone, the Arctic is the same temperature it was at the beginning of the century.

UAH NoPol March 2023.png
April 17, 2023 12:00 pm

I always thought these were called dry spells.

April 17, 2023 2:06 pm

This kind of nonsense has to stop. I think the only way to stop it is to go after the people who approved payment for the study.

Rud Istvan
April 17, 2023 2:33 pm

Returning for a bit more ridicule.

”Dr. Wu invented the ‘flash drought’ concept a few years ago.”
Then “for the first time ever”, a new study by Dr. Wu shows kflash droughts are increasing—including according to him ‘for the first time ever’ in the Sahara, where his invented definition unfortunately makes flash droughts logically impossible.

I can invent a new ‘bogus’ concept. Say for example, “flash extinctions”.
Then I publish a ‘first ever’ paper concerning the ivory billed woodpecker finally by NFWS declared extinct. Gone in a published paper flash, even tho no one has for sure seen one for decades due to habitat loss.
Then I publish a second ever paper on the California delta smelt, declaring it also extinct in a published paper flash despite no one having seen one for a decade.
Then I publish a third paper based on the first two, pronouncing a ‘first time ever’ study showing that flash extinctions are increasing due partly to climate change based on the Delta smelt and California drought, even tho they are presently flooding.
By now, I am approaching Mike Mann hockey stick ‘flash’ levels of fame and fortune in all the right climate alarmist circles, and can apply for tenure admission to the climate club wherever. Maybe Harvard, which welcomed history of science professor Naomi Oreskes as also tenured climate science faculty based on her ridiculous Merchants of Doubt, equating climate skeptics to Big Tobacco. The problem with her thesis is, cigarettes have been shown since many decades to cause deadly lung cancer, while CO2 has not been been shown to cause any global warming, let alone deadly.

See how that flash thingy works to create academic careers? Magical. Worked for Mann. Worked for Oreskes. Seems to be working for Wu. Why not me?

Cause I am an honest Eagle Scout who earned my money the old fashioned way, producing profitable results via long hours for my customers and employers. Unlike the ‘climate science’ academics who exist on fear inspired government grants from politicians who get contributions from the renewables firms they promote because of the ‘climate science’ they fund. Obama’s Solyndra, any one?

michael hart
April 17, 2023 2:39 pm

I’m guessing that these flash droughts end as quickly as they begin.

April 17, 2023 4:16 pm

“The transition to more flash droughts is being driven by a combination of rainfall deficit along with amplified rates of soil moisture loss.”

What does soil moisture loss have to do with drought??
Science made to order….again..

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike
AGW is Not Science
April 17, 2023 7:33 pm

They can’t say there are more droughts, because there aren’t more droughts. So invent a new meaningless “metric,” blame on climate change, rinse and repeat.

Oh, and “SINCE the late 1950s.” Why not SINCE the 1930s??…Bet that wouldn’t tell the same “climate tale.”

April 17, 2023 7:56 pm

So they are using a “Climate Attribution Model” called the Unified Model. Bow down to the models you (climate) heathens’

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