Friday, November 4, 2011

U.S. Could Face Another Dust Bowl Era

With ongoing drought, the American West may be entering a period when it will see dust storms on a scale to dwarf the 1930s Dust Bowl era, researchers say. As evidence, they point to the giant dust storms known as “haboobs” that hit Arizona last summer, some more than a mile high and 100 miles wide, that knocked out electricity, created traffic jams and grounded airplanes. With Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and other states experiencing drought conditions, researchers worry this might just be the start of a trend. The problem, researchers said, is that rising temperatures will contribute directly and indirectly to more dust in the air. Persistent droughts, increasingly violent and variable weather patterns, and urban and suburban development will only compound the problem, they said.