Could another Dust Bowl period happen?

November 30th, 2012 at 9:04 am by under Weather

Dust clouds rising over Texas Panhandle March 1936. Image Credit: Library of Congress. Arthur Rothstein, photographer.

In my blog post yesterday about the continued dry conditions across our region, I mentioned the extreme and exceptional drought going on to our west in the central U.S.

To those history buffs reading the blog, this terrible drought may sound reminiscent of the Dust Bowl period of the 1930s.  Many of you were likely tuned in to the recent Ken Burns documentary on the subject that aired on PBS.

When seeing a case of such a drought currently occurring, you may wonder could an event, where the winds blow across the dry land sending dust everywhere and affecting the lives and agricultural livelihoods of so many, happen again?

I came across an interesting article from Smithsonian.com that tackles the subject in great detail.  The ultimate answer is that, yes, Mother Nature is a powerful force and such a scenario could, indeed, happen again.  However, humans have made a number of agricultural improvements that help reduce this potential.   Advances like underground irrigation, the planting of shelterbelts (groups of trees and shrubs strategically planted to prevent land erosion due to wind and storms), the no-till farming method and the fact that some farmers are paid to not plant on some portions of their land, allowing for natural grasses and other vegetation to grow there, are all items that prevent land degradation and help to hold soil in place.

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