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Matt McGrath Peddles US Megadrought Poppycock

April 17, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby/Ian Magness


Today’s dose of nonsense from Matt McGrath:



A drought, equal to the worst to have hit the western US in recorded history, is already under way, say scientists.

Researchers say the megadrought is a naturally occurring event that started in the year 2000 and is still ongoing.

Climate change, though, is having a major impact with rising temperatures making the drought more severe.

Some researchers are more cautious, saying that it is too early to say if the region really is seeing a true megadrought.


According to the authors of this new paper, a megadrought in North America refers to a multi-decade event, that contains periods of very high severity that last longer than anything observed during the 19th or 20th centuries.

The authors say there have been around 40 drought events over the period from 800-2018 in the western US.

Of these, only four meet the criteria for a megadrought.

These were in the late 800s, the mid-1100s, the 1200s and the late 1500s.

How do researchers know what drought conditions were like in the past?

The key to this new study is the use of tree ring records to reconstruct soil moisture data for the past 1200 years.

The team were also able to use supporting evidence such as medieval tree stumps growing in normally wet river beds, the abandonment of settlements by indigenous civilisations at the peak of the 13th century drought, plus evidence from lake deposits indicating wildfire activity was enhanced during these drought periods. 


In reality there has been nothing unusual about the recent drought in the region:





As is often the case, comparisons are made with only the last few decades:

The authors say the two most important water reservoirs in the region, Lake Powell and Lake Mead have both shrunk dramatically during the drought. Wildfires across the region are growing in area.

"At any given year, there’s over ten times more forest area burns than we would have expected in a given year, 40 years ago," said Dr Williams.

What they are doing, of course, is to compare rainfall with unusually wet climate of the 1980s and 90s.


They also argue that global warming has supercharged the drought:

But climate change has super-charged the current drought.

The authors say that in the western US, temperatures have gone up by 1.2C since 2000. Hotter air holds more moisture and that moisture is being pulled out of the ground.

However this is to ignore the fact that it used to be much warmer than now in the American West, before it became much colder during the Little Ice Age:



HH Lamb- Climate, History and the Modern World – page 142


Far from the megadrought already being underway, the drought effectively ended nearly a decade ago.

Real megadroughts can last for a century or more, not just a decade.

  1. April 17, 2020 12:38 pm

    Climate science has been very keen on this drought thing ever since it had appeared in the 1990s that the Colorado River may run dry. It hasn’t really worked out for them but maybe they are running out of things to fear so they dragged this old “southwest drought” thing to give it another try.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    April 17, 2020 1:40 pm

    The latest issue of SCIENCE magazine is a special issue on drought…Dry Times By David Malako and Andrew Sugden

    Drought “is the death of the earth,” wrote the poet T. S. Eliot. A lack of water withers crops, kills trees, and dries up streams and lakes. Humans have long tried to cope by migrating to wetter regions or inventing new ways of moving water to where it is needed, including by pumping it out of the ground. But as human populations grow, climate change takes hold, and groundwater supplies shrink, droughts pose an increasingly complex challenge to people and the environment.

    Climate change is, of course, the main issue?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      April 17, 2020 1:55 pm

      “Humans have long tried to cope by migrating to wetter regions or inventing new ways of moving water to where it is needed” – One word should be branded on the backsides of all Eco-loons: Aral. But they wouldn’t ‘cotton on’. (See what I did there?) 🙂

  3. johnbillscott permalink
    April 17, 2020 1:51 pm

    It seems that the Beeb has to many people of low intelligence trying to justify their existence and too large salaries. Obviously the Beeb’s FACT CHECK Unit does not apply to inhouse fake news.

  4. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 17, 2020 2:14 pm

    You get the impression on this one that even McGrath had an inkling the man made dangerous climate change angle was risible – but the BBC’s prime directive must be fulfilled nonetheless.

  5. C Lynch permalink
    April 17, 2020 2:49 pm

    Matt reminds me of one of those Soviet spokesmen for lies about grain production from the old days. He has to sing for his supper.

    • April 17, 2020 4:54 pm

      He scuppers his own story in the end:

      Is there full agreement among scientists that a megadrought is taking place right now?
      No. This new study is contentious, especially as the definition of what exactly a megadrought means is still being argued over.

      Some say that it is also way too early to declare that a megadrought is ongoing.

      So the doom-laden headline was all sound and fury, signifying nothing. As usual.

  6. Teddy lee permalink
    April 17, 2020 3:02 pm

    Surely not!Those bloody Mann tree rings make another appearance!

  7. Don B permalink
    April 17, 2020 3:35 pm

    In 1994 the New York Times was not the climate advocate that it is today:

    ” BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.”

    • Athelstan. permalink
      April 17, 2020 5:31 pm


      NYT and climate sanity mixed with quoting figures couched in objective fact.

      Lordy! what an amazing thing, I am aghast – what the heck happened to it?

    • Don B permalink
      April 17, 2020 6:20 pm

      Perhaps the alarmists would prefer the rains which came to the U.S. Southwest in 1861-62, before carbon dioxide controlled the weather.  🙂

      “But December of 1861 saw a 43-day storm in California, one that turned much of Central and Southern California into inland seas. […]

      “Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. […]

      “An estimated 200,000 cattle drowned, about a quarter of all the cattle in the ranching state (the disaster shifted the California economy to farming). One in eight houses was destroyed or carried away in the flood waters. It was also estimated that as much as a quarter of California’s taxable property was destroyed, which bankrupted the state.” [….] 

      “The 1861-62 floods extended far beyond the borders of California. They were the worst in recorded history over much of the American West, including northern Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and into British Columbia, as well as reaching inland into Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

      “This kind of flood has occurred about once every 100 to 200 years over the past 1,800 years. It will happen again. (This time it will be blamed on climate change.)”

  8. A C Osborn permalink
    April 17, 2020 4:38 pm

    Just take a look at the Palmer Drought Index for this year.
    Not a red area in sight.

    They are flat out lying.

    • Athelstan. permalink
      April 17, 2020 5:33 pm

      good spot – link


      Alas, do they ever tell the truth and even if they the bbc saw some (truth) would they have the nous or scan to recognize it for what it was?

      • dave permalink
        April 17, 2020 6:07 pm

        OT but definitely of interest:

        This is a poor chart, because the scale on the bottom is inadequate. But it seems

        (1) for the present “it is over” in Spain;

        (2) the excess mortality was 10,000.

        As the official number of covid-19 deaths is 20,000 the attribution of covid-19 as primary cause seems to have been overstated by the government by a factor of 2.

  9. April 17, 2020 6:56 pm

    More low-hanging alarmist fruit for Matty to get his teeth into…

    APRIL 16, 2020
    Extreme floods to hit US cities ‘almost daily’ by 2100

    Good news for boatbuilders 😆

  10. Rowland P permalink
    April 17, 2020 8:00 pm

    According to Tony Heller of Real Climate Science, Colorado is presently experiencing record snow fall!

  11. C Lynch permalink
    April 17, 2020 9:34 pm

    Off topic but interesting.
    I’m reading Berguson and Herwigs’ ‘One Christmas in Washington’ about Roosevelt and Churchill meeting in 1941.
    Christmas Day was described as pleasantly warm with temperatures in the 60’s!
    Imagine the handwaving and bandying about of the ‘unprecedented’ word if that occured now.

  12. tom0mason permalink
    April 22, 2020 4:43 pm

    What is BBC News?

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