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Jul 11, 2013 9:45 AM by Stephen Bowers

Why the drought in the west?

A report from LiveScience remembers severe drought and massive and deadly wildfires in the west... not necessarily of that past couple of years. These events also happened in 1950.

Researchers suggest that the drought in 1950 happened when natural patterns and cycles in ocean temperatures in both the Pacific and Atlantic brings about change in large scale weather patterns, and the oceanic temperatures are once again exhibiting that pattern.

The LiveScience report indicates the pattern change bringing drought to the West occurred about 10 years ago, and could last for as long as 20 to 30 years.

The cycles, which are somewhat similar to the oceanic temperature swings that bring about El Niño and La Niña - together called the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO, are the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlatic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). 

The patterns have recently been discovered and are the not only patterns contributing to global weather changes. The PDO and AMO were discovered in the last 20 years and have been traced back in time to find contributions to other periods of drought. LiveScience reports that the PDO actually affects the same area of water where El Niño occurs and that the two cycles may help give each other a boost occasionally.

The AMO has been linked to the severe drought in the 1930's we often call The Dust Bowl.

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