back to article The second dust bowl cometh for America, supercomputer warns

In the 2004 disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow, the world is subsumed by extreme weather as a violent climate collapse encases the Northern Hemisphere in ice and snow in a matter of days. However, a more likely future may be that of the dust bowl droughts depicted in Christopher Nolan's film Interstellar, released 10 years …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All I can see

    is a black market in "where's hot and where's not" data as Megacorps try to build in drought zones before they get found out.

    Much like they would love to do with flood plains in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All I can see

      Flood plains are over blown in the UK. Most of the UK's towns and cities are built on some sort of flood plain. It's basically unavoidable at this point because most of the large towns and cities are built around rivers and canals...because those are the motorways of yore.

      What sucks though is the "calculated risk" that insurers use to determine your flood risk.

      I recently bought a house that was considered "at risk" of flooding. When I took a closer look at the report, the "risk" was based on the last time this area flooded...which was in 1902...regardless, this area is still considered "flood plain". In fact, pretty much the whole of London is "flood plain".

      If you want to avoid flood risk, you have to live somewhere relatively modern and soul crushingly dull like Milton Keynes or Bracknell. I swear, every time I somehow end up in Milton Keynes, I can feel myself slowly dying.

      Quite a few of us here have probably spent considerable time in dreary Milton Keynes at one of the many datacentres. The worst and most depressing of all them being (what back then was) the TalkTalk datacentre (probably a Pulsant DC now, haven't been in years). It is fucking grim there. It's like stepping back in time to the late 80's / early 90's.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All I can see

        > I swear, every time I somehow end up in Milton Keynes, I can feel myself slowly dying.

        Cheer up - you could be in Basingstoke. It's not too far from Bracknell.

        > It is grim there. It's like stepping back in time to the late 80's / early 90's.

        As someone who lived through that area, I think I would happily go back. Technology was respected and fairly well paid. A good career choice.

        And nobody expected you to fix their inkjet printers and mobile phones for free, 'cos you know about these things.

        Mind you, I would miss the intertubes, but I might be able to help invent it.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: All I can see

          Oh come on... Basingstoke isnt THAT bad..

          But then again.... what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable?

          <we once met a prospective customer in Swindon...... be buggered if we can remember anything about that trip :)

          1. rafff

            what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable?

            They were designed as a Socialist (capital S) paradise with no thought for the people who would have to live in them

            1. Binraider Silver badge

              Re: what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable?

              It is much, much worse than you describe. It is an unmanaged scramble to the top of the greasy pole; where the grease has been deliberately made super slippery to all but those that set the rules in the first place.

              Love or hate MK the housing development shortfall has been deliberately allowed to fester in most other places to stoke up prices at the expense of the vast majority of people.

              Immigrants have been made scapegoats of the housing shortage for some time, but the real problem is much bigger than that. That excuse no longer holds and the root cause of the problems cannot be evaded any longer.

              When you have a way-above-average job and paying 40% tax; yet you can't realistically buy anything other than a 1920's 2-bed semi; those at the bottom of the pile are royally screwed.

            2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable? @raff

              Actually, I think you are wrong, or looking at it without taking in the historical context. They were originally built precisely for the people who would live in them.

              I know Basingstoke best, and the aim of the place was to act as relocation hub for people who had been living in really bad housing in London (they were called London Overspill towns, but that was not really accurate).

              If you look at them all, the idea was to produce a nicer environment to live in than the terrace slums that had been so badly damaged in the Blitz. As a result, almost all of the houses were well built, and around Basingstoke, had gardens, kitchens, good plumbing, central heating, and generously sized rooms. They were arranged around local centres which had a good sized convenience store or small supermarket, food outlets (normally a Fish and Chip shop as built), medium sized schools close by, and a doctors surgery and maybe a dentist. There were also social clubs, community centres and sometimes pubs as well, and green spaces like parks, playing fields, playgrounds and even small patches of woodland left to separate the areas of paving and concrete up.

              The bus services were good, and allowed you to get into the centre of the town or the industrial estates (also built to house relocated and new businesses) for work quite easily, allowing the families to exist without needing a car, as most people being relocated from London would not have had one at the time. But there was provision for cars as well as families became better off.

              The ex-council house we bought in Popley at the beginning of the '90s had been lived in by the same family since it was built, and I remember talking to them when we were viewing it, and they said it was like heaven on earth compared to where they had moved from.

              What has made it worse in the last 30 years, and this is not really anything special to Basingstoke, was when economies were made, such as reducing the bus services, consolidating the medium sized schools into smaller numbers of large schools outside the town, shutting down the local centres and filling in the green spaces and ex-school playing fields with more dwellings, often apartment blocks. And it was not helped when the large stock of council houses were sold off, and became less well maintained in private hands than when they were owned by the Council, which also fragmented the communities. What had been small communities, clustered around a town centre became soulless, slowly decaying areas of increasing deprivation, although I would say that it was still mostly better than the social engineering that produced the tower blocks in many large cities around the country in the same period (look up the Biker Wall for real evidence of "Socialist housing").

              I would imagine that many of the council houses sold have ended up in the private rental market as well, which probably doesn't help much.

              The 'new towns' were built with the best intentions, only to be corrupted by the modern world.

            3. Red Or Zed

              Re: what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable?

              "no thought for the people who would have to live in them"

              Complete nonsense. They were carefully thought about and planned to make things easier and nicer for the people who would have to live in them.

              This is estate is for housing, it has a mix of house types, paths away from the roads and they link to other estates, large amounts of greenery, with a local shopping area, local schools and a pub within walking distance.

              Compare this to the developer "designed" hells with no shops, no schools, no surgeries, no greenery, no pavements and no parking.

              Next to the housing estate is a commercial area, within walking distance of the houses but separated.

              Compare this to the old towns with factories sitting next door to housing. Ugh.

          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: All I can see

            It depends on your perspective. I used to live in Basingstoke in the early '90s, and I thought at the time that, for a modern town, it was not actually that bad. But I knew people who remembered from before the new town was built in the '60s, and thought that all the concrete in the shopping centres and the rings of housing estates around the edge were just horrible.

            But a few years ago I had occasion to drive through it (well, I guess around it mostly), and it seemed to me that the green spaces that had been deliberately left to make it more pleasant (or do I mean less unpleasant) were being filled in by to my eyes ugly high density apartment blocks that totally changed the character of the place.

            The only major improvement was that they'd removed most of the roundabouts from the ring-road. But I guess that people who enjoy that type of environment may think differently, just as I did 30 years ago.

            Oh, and for all it's shortcomings, I think MK (in the late '90s) was nicer, although the grid road system was infuriating!

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: All I can see

            we once met a prospective customer in Swindon

            I'm astonished that anyone would think that *anything* about Swindon was planned..

            (The town centre mostly dates from Brunels' days - the Great Western locomotive works were the towns major employer for quite a long time - Brunel first requested land in Wooten Bassett (which, at the time, was bigger than Swindon) to build his factories. They said no (we don't want your smelly factory here!) so he went to Swindon who basically allowed him as much land as he wanted..)

            There are nice bits of Swindon - we live pretty much next door to Lydiard Park.. The town centre, not so much.

            The estates that were built on council-owned land have wide streets and plenty of green spaces. Those built on privately-owned land, not so much. There the houses are crammed in - presumably by a space-planning algorithm that enables the developers to put as many houses as possible regardless of the impact on prospective owners.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: All I can see

            The ageing population that still lives there because nobody below a certain age can afford or find a house to buy.

            Youngun's either have to buy a crappy flat in a dense complex or move to a city and buy a crappy flat in a dense complex.

            Cities are more fun, so the choice is obvious.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: All I can see

              "Cities are more fun"

              Assumes facts not in evidence.

      2. StargateSg7

        Re: All I can see

        Y'all gotta come over to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada! It may rain 400 inches in a year (1000 cm) here ...BUT.... when it's sunny you can see snow-capped mountains in winter and some incredible mountain peak views in summer.

        A mere few KM away with three ski mountains right beside the city for some morning skiing and if you're into it, you can do some kayaking, sailing, boating, scuba diving, fishing, etc in the afternoon and a get some decent sushi in the evening and a nice sea walk stroll at night!

        If Milton Keynes is that DULL, ya gotta MOVE some somewhere less dreary. If you don't like big cities, Comox, BC and Gibsons, BC is just a ferry ride away from the hustle of big city Vancouver into a more sedate but still comfortable and outdoorsy lifestyle! On a realistic basis, the best places to live and work in the world if you wanna get some relief from dreariness and goto somewhere more temperate without the huge extremes of super-heat/super-cold climate and STILL enjoy a first world lifestyle, it would be Vienna, Zurich, Vancouver, Munich/Nuremburg, Auckland NZ, Santiago Chile, Sapporo Japan, Seattle and Portland and many parts of Hungary. I've found Italy, France, Spain, Portugual and Greece too hot in summers and NYC and Toronto getting too hectic for my tastes. Even Miami is too much these days.

        If you are into BIG mountains with warmer summers and cooler winters, then Calgary is a good compromise of a million+ people city but STILL small-town feel and LOTS of outdoor activities available.

        Of the tropical places, the Seychelles and Costa Rica are best for modern first world facilities available in smaller cities and for truly Northern cool tempertaure climates, it's hard to beat Norway and Sweden.

        V

        V

      3. Spherical Cow Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: All I can see

        "In fact, pretty much the whole of London is "flood plain"."

        Except that most of London is hilly.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: All I can see

      Local flooding issues are the same sort of thing as local traffic issues - the flooding risks can normally be handled by maintaining the rivers all the way to the sea so that they don't keep getting shallower - make them a little deeper everywhere and wider when possible. Building close to a river level is risky but that can be handled by working on the problem - locally we're expecting the Mississippi to rise from 26 feet deep today (it was only 6 feet deep a few months ago) but it will be 30 feet by the end of the week. It's no big deal even if it reached more than 40 feet deep because we have decent levees that keep us all happy around the river.

      All the UK needs to do is make a few rivers deeper ... these days this means scooping the crap out of the rivers that the water companies are pouring into them.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: All I can see

        @Version 1.0

        All a bit simplistic re dredging rivers to make them deeper - it can total destroy the river ecosystem (some of us think the natural world matters) - even if the river and underlying river bed and underlying older sediments are "clean". A riverbed is often a surprisingly complex habitat and as such has a complicated related eco system.

        But it gets even more problematic with rivers where older underlying sediments are "dirty".

        In the UK, a lot of rivers were very polluted in the past with a variety of toxic materials as for a long time polluting industries just discharged into the local water system (and with UK getting heavily into "industrialization" relatively early historically, then a lot of pollution done long before people became aware of / concerned about such issues).

        What this means is that dredging rivers could involve some very nasty materials being liberated and causing nasty problems.

        e.g. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-64242217

        Essentially almost everyone with a scientific clue (apart from the govt cronies who whitewashed the "investigation" into this) regard the Tees dredging (& toxic materials released) to have contributed to eco system damage in the area.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: All I can see

          Sure, it's not going to be an easy solution but we have some ability to increase the drainage while nothing we do can stop it raining. It would be some big changes to deepen and widen the rivers but that could reduce the flooding risks locally. Yes, there's a lot of crap in the rivers - we need to fix that too.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: All I can see

            There's a lot of actual crap too. People with septic tanks tend to save money by having a late night after dark ritual to "cleanse" their tank that usually involves a nearby stream or river.

            Mandating mains drains and banning septic tanks would probably save councils a lot of money in river maintenance.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: All I can see

              "People with septic tanks tend to save money by having a late night after dark ritual to "cleanse" their tank that usually involves a nearby stream or river."

              They do? In all the years I've had septic tanks in my life, I have never, not once, even heard anyone suggest this as an option. Pumping services are inexpensive ... paying someone else to deal with it, and then take it away for you, far outweighs the DIY option with the inevitable shitty mess all over the yard. Honestly, my mind boggles at the thought. What kind of mental incompetent would even start such a project?

              Note I'm not even getting into the downstream issues ... nor what happens when (not if!) you get caught ... it would be really, really hard to hide the evidence of where the effluvia entered the environment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All I can see

        Dredging rivers used to be common practice until councils decided to stop paying for it. It's a cut that most people won't notice until they get flooded.

  2. TimMaher Silver badge
    Coat

    John Steinbeck

    Mine’s the one with “The Grapes of Wrath” in the pocket.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: John Steinbeck

      Mine with the copy of Renegades by RATM.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: John Steinbeck

      "Grapes" only worked once. Now that people know how nice the Salinas Valley is to live in, you can't afford it.

      I should know ... we tried to get a place down there before we found this place.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    American Midwest

    So, anywhere between Indiana and Nebraska... That narrows it down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: American Midwest

      Isn't the point that it isn't being narrowed down?

      It's a huge area that will potentially be in drought/near drought conditions unless alternative land and water management solutions are implemented.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: American Midwest

        Yes but it's full of people that don't believe in climate change and are poor.

        So the only people who will really suffer are satirical website writers

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: American Midwest

        -> unless alternative land and water management solutions are implemented

        So no chance then. It's $somebody's "God given right" to draw as much water from the ground as possible, and if that causes dust bowls then that is too bad.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: American Midwest

          But if you don't get all the water out first, then somebody else will and they'll make your money - see almond farming in California

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: American Midwest

            As a Californian rancher/farmer, IMO we should ban the growing of rice, cotton and almonds. Those three suck up far more than their share of the state's ag water.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: American Midwest

          Pulling ground water had nothing to do with the dust bowl. It was severe drought coupled with a lack of understanding dry farming coupled with stripping the existing native grasses in favo(u)r of row crops. This destabilized the topsoil over a wide area and .... well, the rest is history.

          Also, the Dust Bowl wasn't in the midwest. It was in the south-east corner of the Great Plains ... Roughly centered on the two counties in the western-most half of the Oklahoma Panhandle, and extending out a couple counties in all directions into Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas and a couple more counties in Oklahoma. More minor effects extended further into Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: American Midwest

      > So, anywhere between Indiana and Nebraska... That narrows it down.

      Possibly everywhere between Indiana and Nebraska. Maybe more of a dust plate than dust bowl.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: American Midwest

      The midwest is more like between the Great Plains and Appalachia. And it's not really mid- or -west.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: American Midwest

        Yes. OP's comment is inaccurate, since Ohio and Michigan, at least, are typically included in "the Midwest", unless the speaker is trying to distinguish "the Rust Belt" from the Midwest. Whether you include Kentucky and Tennessee is more contentious. But of course there's no real standard definition of the term.

        (The US Census Bureau changed the name of Region 2 from "North Central Region" to "Midwestern United States" in ... god, was it really way back in 1984? Anyway, arguably that's the "standard" version of "the Midwest", though it's not exactly the same term. Region 2 includes Kansas, Nebraska, and both Dakotas, and those are really Great Plains for most people, so bah, forget that.)

        It was "the west" for the earliest part of US history; Ohio and Michigan were often referred to as "the Old Northwest" in the 19th century, and that's why you have, say, Eaton Rapids, Michigan, at one time being famous as "the Saratoga of the West". (These days, of course, few places aside from Saratoga Springs consider themselves the Saratoga of anything. Hot springs no longer enjoy that level of respect in the US.)

        It was "mid" in the sense that it wasn't either coast, nor part of the Plains or the Great American Desert or the Stuff We Stole From Mexico.

        1. Glenn Amspaugh

          Re: American Midwest

          The "middle east" works.

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Where does the model suggest that the rain will go? Are there deserts that are going to bloom into farms and vineyards? I know it's fashionable these days for journalists to only report bad news, but it would be interesting, possibly even useful, to know if there are any positive results from such changes.

    1. IanRS

      A few years ago there was a paper published which claimed that climate change would render many of the areas which currently grow cocoa beans unsuitable for that crop. This was, of course, picked up and reported by mainstream media: "Worldwide shortage of chocolate", etc. The paper also said, although the media generally did not, that the areas that would become suitable for cocoa was three times the area that would be lost, if suitable preparations were made - cocoa grows best as part of a layered environment, so the flora above and below where the cacao trees would be planted would need to be planted first.

      1. IanRS

        Link to paper

        Most links to the paper hit the Springer pay-wall, but it can be found at https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/51470/Climate%20suitability%20for%20Cocoa%20farming.pdf

        Even the abstract has the positive news, so there is no excuse for reporters missing it. "According to the model, some current cocoa producing areas will become unsuitable (Lagunes and Sud-Comoe in Côte d’Ivoire) requiring crop change, while other areas will require adaptations in agronomic management, and in yet others the climatic suitability for growing cocoa will increase (Kwahu Plateu in Ghana and southwestern Côte d’Ivoire)."

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        FAIL

        The catch...

        "if suitable preparations were made"

        And what makes us believe that preparations will be made? So far, our record in preparing for climate change is nil. What's the plan for Manhattan after sea level rise, for example? Gondolas on 5th Avenue? (Even Venice, which has known about this problem for decades, has no real plan.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The catch...

          Unfortunately our politicians still cling to the delusion that they can stop it happening, instead of accepting that with 8bn people on the planet some change is inevitable and it would be better to prepare for it.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The catch...

            "Unfortunately our politicians still cling to the delusion that they can stop it happening"

            Dolt be silly. They know damn day well that they can't stop it. What they CAN do is convince enough suckers to re-elect them by paying lip-service to it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The catch...

            "our politicians still cling to the delusion that they can stop it happening"

            Thats what they make you think, really they know the truth that its all a load of bull and they are just profiting from the stupidity of the masses.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: The catch...

          "What's the plan for Manhattan after sea level rise, for example?"

          Party everywhere else?

          "Even Venice, which has known about this problem for decades, has no real plan."

          Venice will continue sinking regardless of what sea level does.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The catch...

            What's the plan for Manhattan after sea level rise, for example?

            Sell the upper-floor apartments as ocean-front property.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Where does the model suggest that the rain will go? Are there deserts that are going to bloom into farms and vineyards?

      That is the many billion dollar question. We know extended periods of drought have happened in the past, be that the Dust Bowl, or further back, archaeological evidence from the Pueblo and Navajo people. We don't exactly know why their climate changed. There's evidence of pretty extensive agriculture and irrigation systems, but for whatever reason, the water dried up.

      We have additional challenges in modern times because our agricultural practices have changed. Industrial farming needs massive amounts of water, which may come from aquifers or rivers. We've been doing water intensive agriculture in arguably inappropriate places, like soft fruit, salad veg and Almonds around California's deserts. Massive fields and intensive farming have also lead to soil degradation and 'dust bowl' conditions as topsoil dries out and blows away. There's also increased demand for water from growing populations, and industry. Bottle water where it's (currently) plentiful, ship it and plastic to places like California, and get almond milk, fruit and salads shipped back. The water might then get filtered by kidneys, and then dumped because although some people are keen on recycling, the US doesn't recycle water very well or efficiently.

      But it's a looming problem. I think there are a number of factors involved, main ones appear to be natural climate cycles. So there's ENSO, or the El Nino/La Nina ocean heat pump that alternates between warm and cool, and more or less evaporation. Same principle happens with the Atlantic and Pacific Decadal Oscillations. There may also be effects from solar cycles that lead to more or less Cloud Condensation Nuclei, and affect cloud coverage. These cycles all have different periodicties, and sometimes peaks will coincide, and we get more pronounced effects.

      The IPCC covers a lot of this in their reports, and assumptions that there will probably be winners and losers. The question as always is trying to figure out how much is natural, and how much is man-made. Some man-made problems are obvious, eg where we practice intensive agriculture and if those practices are sustainable. So the US currently converts a lot of water into ethanol to be burned in vehicles. Perhaps that's an inefficient use of water, and food production should be prioritised? Avocados and almonds might be trendy, but they're very water intensive as well. There are also other political considerations, like most plants being made up of water, CO2, sunlight and soil nutrients. As CO2 levels increase, many plants need less water, so CO2 fertilisation effects might actually be beneficial.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        The irony is that almonds are only requiring lots of water when farmed industrially.

        Around here (Algarve, similar climate to central California AFAIK) there are lots of almond trees growing largely unattended, but Californians will probably find the yield pitiful.

        1. jake Silver badge

          I have a couple almond trees here (Sonoma, California). I have never irrigated them, ever. They produce roughly the same amount of nuts in wet years as in dry years.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        There's evidence of pretty extensive agriculture and irrigation systems, but for whatever reason, the water dried up.

        The pre-Columbian irrigation cultures generally failed due to salinification of the irrigated ground, a problem for nearly all irrigation-dependent agriculture. (Egypt is one of the rare exceptions, because the flooding of the Nile deposits fresh silt to counter the increase in halogens precipitating out of the irrigation water.) Salts in the soil decrease the osmotic pressure, and deflocculate colloidal soils, making it harder for plant root systems to grow.

        While there were certainly climactic cycles in precipitation, it's salinification that kills irrigation. That's been true since farmers in the Fertile Crescent had to gradually shift from wheat to barley (a much more salt-tolerant grain) thousands of years ago.

    3. CatWithChainsaw
      Joke

      Perhaps this world will become Arrakis. At least then the spice will flow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I would prefer Arruckus.

        "The beer must flow!"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Lampoon%27s_Doon

      2. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Arrakis?

        Not something to wish for around here; the Butlerian Jihad is not going to do the average Register reader's job prospects any good at all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where does the model suggest that the rain will go?

      In California, most will end up quickly returning to the sea due to lack of storage.

      Even so, in fracking areas, contamination of ground water supplies is likely to be a serious issue.

    5. xyz Silver badge

      I kinda doubt there will be upsides. Drought followed by heavy rain means severe erosion. Crops like wine grapes go ballistic when they have been in a dry environment and then get soaked... Then there are all the diseases they get that need to be sprayed. I know, I've got vineyards.

      Farms operate on an annual cycle. If the crop gets f***ed at the wrong time, you have to wait a year to fix the problem. You cant fix it next week.

      I've seen the weather change in the last 5 years and I'm changing my crops because what I have doesn't work anymore.

      I currently use SMOS L2 and soil moisture sensor data to try and protect my ass but it's still not good enough. I cant irrigate more because the wildlife is thirsty and just rip apart the irrigation pipes.

      It's not looking good.

    6. Robert 22

      Where does the model suggest that the rain will go?

      Higher temperatures increase evaporation. Also, changes in atmospheric circulation will change where what rain there is ends up.

      Another issue is that key aquifers are being depleted with no real prospects of refilling them i.e., we are already living beyond our means.

    7. jake Silver badge

      "Where does the model suggest that the rain will go?"

      What kind of silly question is that? The answer is obviously outside their remit.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        I don't know why jake got downvoted, the question the researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Labs were asked was, "what will happen in specific regions of the USA". To quote, "The work is intended to help lawmakers make informed decisions when making policy around near-term droughts and floods".

        So, the answer to the question where the rain will go is just "not here".

    8. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      "Where does the model suggest that the rain will go".

      Too much water, all at once, on dry soil will just go and go and produce flash floods as the article claims.

      But lets always look at the bright side, like about all the happy fish having more room to roam when the sea level rises.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifLqzLEB3E0

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Too much water, all at once, on dry soil will just go and go and produce flash floods as the article claims.

        Yep. It's been fascinating learning more about how the world works. So 'poor' agriculture leads to higher risk of wind or water erosion. Soil ends up somewhere else, usually being natural or artificial drainage systems that then have less storage or drainage capacity, and the flooding happily migrates downstream. Farmers generally know these risks and grumble about clearing drains, ditches, waterways etc, but know that if they don't, the problems just get worse. Then environmentalists make the job harder and risks higher by increasingly the regulatory burden on actually trying to manage and maintain the environment properly.

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          So the thing to do is to ignore those commie nancies who regulate green policies and trust to the age-old wisdom and understanding of American Farmers ?

          [ And now the Agro-Chemical complex. ]

          Which brought us the First Dust Bowl and has brought us to this pass..

  5. IanRS

    How is the machine learning trained?

    ML relies on being given lots of sample data, from which you hope it learns a pattern related to what you want to know. Without lots of examples of 'this scenario leads to a bad end,' how is it going to predict this? It looks like an example of trying to learn a small section of output and hope that that can be extrapolated to extreme conditions, and there is no way that climate models can be considered linear.

    1. pdh

      Re: How is the machine learning trained?

      The article doesn't say that the model uses machine learning, does it? It says: "forecasts climate patterns in blocks down to 12 square kilometers" which sounds more like a conventional finite element model, not AI.

      The question still stands though: how did they validate this model? What successful predictions has this model made in the past?

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: How is the machine learning trained?

        IanRS: ...how is it going to predict this? -- future.

        Article: ... to improve the model's resolution to four square kilometers... and use machine-learning techniques... -- future.

        It seems likely that IanRS is referring to the future modelling effort, not the current one as you say. Over to you Ian...

        1. pdh

          Re: How is the machine learning trained?

          Improving the resolution is certainly a worthy goal... wikipedia tells us that the average thunderstorm has a diameter of 24 km, so I wonder if they can really be modeled by the existing 12-km model. If not, then you're trying to predict droughts and flooding via a simulation that doesn't include thunderstorms, which makes me suspicious of its accuracy.

          That's the whole problem with this kind of modeling of course, and it's the reason that you need a supercomputer to do it. But unless they have validation results that show otherwise, I have to suspect that the current model is too coarse to be reliable.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: How is the machine learning trained?

            Climate, not weather.

            So the model can predict "high likelihood of thunderstorms in these blocks", but not "there will likely be a thunderstorm this month"

            As for training, there's a lot of historical data. Presumably they're using that to train the model, then asking it to extrapolate.

            Whether that produces useful results under rapidly changing circumstances is a different question, especially as nobody knows where the tipping points are.

      2. sitta_europea Silver badge

        Re: How is the machine learning trained?

        [quote]

        The question still stands though: how did they validate this model? What successful predictions has this model made in the past?

        [/quote]

        Did you read the bit that says:

        "These are projections. They're not predictions," Argonne's Brandi Gamelin said in the post.

        ?

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: How is the machine learning trained?

          "These are projections. They're not predictions,"

          Please explain the difference.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: How is the machine learning trained?

            Seriously? You don't understand the difference between a projection and a prediction? Honestly, it's like some people can't be bothered with even the basics of critical thinking.

            A projection is extrapolating from a model. It says: Here is the result of continuing this model beyond the available data points. Often, as in this case, it means advancing the model into the future.

            A prediction is a statement about a future outcome with some assigned probability: X will happen within timeframe Y with probability Z. (Often predictions are made informally, particularly by popular-media pundits and the like, with the probability and/or timeframe are given vaguely or left to be inferred.)

            Gamelin is clearly (for those who give it a moment's thought, anyway) saying that these are the results of allowing the model to evolve into the projected timeframe, and not predictions for which any probability can reliably be asserted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How is the machine learning trained?

              "A projection is extrapolating from a model. It says: Here is the result of continuing this model beyond the available data points. Often, as in this case, it means advancing the model into the future."

              ... and that's called a prediction the second you claim your model matches with reality. Which they do.

              Claiming it's actually a different thing in practise, is more or less BS: Every climate model produces predictions and they are used as ones.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How is the machine learning trained?

              "Seriously? You don't understand the difference between a projection and a prediction? "

              No, you don't understand that the difference exists only within science. Outside of science those are the same thing: Predictions generated by projection.

              "Second dust bowl cometh" is *not* a projection. You seriously do not understand that?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How is the machine learning trained?

          "Did you read the bit that says:

          "These are projections. They're not predictions," Argonne's Brandi Gamelin said in the post."

          Irrelevant and he knows it. They are read as predictions just like *every climate model* existing.

          Here we see a guy who presents the data as predictions and tries to wash his hands claiming they aren't. Not only he lies, he's a *dishonest* liar.

      3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: How is the machine learning trained?

        Rather than "What successful predictions has this model made in the past?" how about "What successful predictions has this model made of the past?"

        I seem to recall (could be a memory burp) that most of the climate models are unable to accurately forecast past behaviour where the input and output is known.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How is the machine learning trained?

          "I seem to recall (could be a memory burp) that most of the climate models are unable to accurately forecast past behaviour where the input and output is known."

          Yes. not only they can't predict future, they can't even predict *past*.

          To an engineer like me that means *all of them* are pure BS.

          Definitely not science: In science we have formulas and verified results and guesswork, like numerical models, are used in *engineering*. That's far from science.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How is the machine learning trained?

        "The question still stands though: how did they validate this model? What successful predictions has this model made in the past?"

        They don't and none. Which applies to *every* climate model ever. Hockey stick curve with CO2 still lives despite proven BS already in 1990s. For *political* reasons.

        To me, as a hard scientist, all climate models are pure BS: if you can't have 100 repeatable results in a lab, it's BS. Climatologists don't have even one repeatable result: *every* prediction is and has been wrong.

        Not only worthless BS, but *negative worth* when the BS is used to tax energy production for BS reasons.

        Numerical model is an *engineering* tool and *not* science: It's literally *a guess* of what are the affecting factors and how they affect. In science that's a hypothesis. No more, no less. Anyone calling that 'science' is a moron. Sorry about that.

        The goal of "climate reseach" is to generate research grants to researches in a politically acceptable way. And have they succeeded in that .... EU alone gave 5 *billions* to "climate research". For ~5000 climatologists in EU. 1M euros per head, tax-free research grant. Ordinary people live 20 years with that money. And that's literally what they've been doing, spewing more BS every year as they can't change the CO2-assumption: It would mean no more money, literally.

        That alone guarantees that every climate model in the future will also be wrong. And that's a prediction which will be true. CLimatologist still will get their bribery money, of course: This has been *pure politics* since IPCC invented they can *sell* "emission permissions" and pocket the money, in 1990s. Every one of them is a billionaire by now: *Always* follow the money.

        Also an excuse to tax existing, i.e. energy usage, literally. Hundreds of billions of that, every year. Lots of politics. zero science.

  6. Lil Endian Silver badge
    Coat

    *Derisive Quadruple Professor Snort*

    The model forecasts climate patterns in blocks down to 12 square kilometers — about 12 square kilometres for those who do speak English.

    [The one with a Pocket OED in, well, the pocket! :) ]

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    We we lived on our farm in southwestern Ohio back in the 1970s, my brother and I developed a weather prediction model that was 95%+ accurate out to three days. We simply aimed our television antenna toward the St Louis or Chicago stations. What ever weather they had would hit us up to three days later. If we wanted a farther out forecast, we looked at what they were forecasting. Worked like a charm.

    To forecast long term as the article implies, just look at population growth and construction rates. They higher they are, and higher the probability there will be resource shortages.

  8. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Not to worry

    You are in good hands.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXtG8GrW6EQ

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Trollface

    Self fulfilling prophecy

    So I should buy an enormous SUV for the sand dunes and floods?

  10. deadlockvictim
    Trollface

    This is not a problem

    Most farmers in the Midwest vote Republican and according to the Republican Party, Climate Change is a hoax.

    So, there is nothing for them to worry about except Joe Biden taking away their guns.

    The Republican Party has their best interests at heart..

  11. Magik1111

    The scientist's predictive models were deeply flawed and did not take into consideration the exponential effect of multiple cascading tipping points.

    Phenomena and impacts predicted to occur in 2100 are happening now, except with greater severity and frequency than predicted.

    People are generally unaware that they are dying now. Everyone alive right now will perish from climate change within the next 10 years...perhaps even sooner.

    The politicians are setting policies and making laws and operating according to the deeply flawed IPCC reports, which are watered down by politicians and fossil fuel companies.

    Yes that's right. Fossil fuel companies provide input and edits to climate reporting. That's like making a hole in your hen house so the foxes can get in.

    Multiple tipping points have already been breached and the world is operating to false data, false predictive models, and according to the old irrelevant dates of 2050 and 2100.

    The entire world would have had to be united and putting forth an effort equivalent to 10X WW2 for humanity to survive. These actions should have been taken 20-30 years ago.

    We will lucky if a single human being is still standing by 2030. People are just not grasping the gravity and magnitude of this epic catastrophe, which is already unfolding with astounding rapidity.

    The Titanic has already struck the iceberg and the ship is sinking. Now the only thing that remains is for people to break through their denial and face the grim truth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Everyone alive right now will perish from climate change within the next 10 years"

      Is the climate change in the room with you now?

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      -- The scientist's predictive models were deeply flawed -- Fully agree

      -- Fossil fuel companies provide input and edits to climate reporting. -- So do those whose livelihoods depend on climate change hysteria

      -- the world is operating to false data, false predictive models -- yeeees. Hockey-sticks anyone

      --We will lucky if a single human being is still standing by 2030.-- Half (roughly) of humanity will be laying down hoping for a good nights sleep. What is going to make the other half lay down or fall over?

      -- face the grim truth -- Your tablets have arrived!

    3. IGotOut Silver badge

      New account.

      False information.

      Is it worth pointing out the flaws in his post?

    4. jake Silver badge

      Remember, folks ...

      If you feed the trolls, you get to keep them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember, folks ...

        Is he housebroken?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Phenomena and impacts predicted to occur in 2100 are happening now, except with greater severity and frequency than predicted."

      And were happening in 1800s too, you just didn't know it.

      Yet another person who has no idea what 'information bias' means.

      Also: Statistics prove otherwise: Amount of hurricanes is *lower* now (2010-2020) than in 2000-2010. So less frequent and lower severity than 10 years ago: Literal opposite.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " Everyone alive right now will perish from climate change within the next 10 years...perhaps even sooner."

      Yea, right. IPCC predicts +0.6C for *next 100 years*. Which is absolutely meaningless amount. You say IPCC is wrong?

  12. myhandler

    There's a paragraph in the article starting:

    "Even still, the group has limited the long-term trajectory of these forecasts to 50 years...."

    What does "Even still" add?

    Do American journos not know how to speaka da language?

  13. hob_bes

    Time to Buy Up Property In The Metaverse...

    I hear it is the next big thing in investing. What better way to squirrel away one's money than something that is not in the realm of reality, which cannot be affected by nasty weather events and worsening climate.

  14. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Boffin

    Lesson learned for me...

    I lived in the upper Midwest in the late 1980's, during a drought. I remember the doom & gloom about how it would take 'at least 10 years for the lakes to recover'.

    Two years later, severe flooding. The beaches I had seen were gone and have not reappeared.

    So lesson learned: Climate predictions don't mean diddly. And the moment we think we have it figured out, Nature reminds us who is in charge.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A climate model " and predicts "major problems" 50 years from now, when everyone involved is safely either dead or at least in pension.

    How convinient, isn't it? At least tenth iteration of the same: "Gimme money!"

    That's exactly what they did in 1970s, too. And what happened? *Every* prediction was BS. And has been since then. That's not even science, that's just *politics*.

    In late 1970s it was a new ice age by 2020. In 1990s it was global warming by 2000 and "+1.6C *per year* by 2020", remember that? I do.

    Now it's "climate change" and *another* ice age in the future. Who is the idiot who believes these morons?

    50 years of failed prections means their models are *fundamentally wrong*, i.e. BS. That level of BS means the assumptions the models are based on, are wrong, too. But of course they'll *never* admit that as long as someone, i.e. taxpayers, pay for new models. Which also will be wrong, of course. Politicians wont' care as it's a way to increase taxes, you can bet on that.

    Let's put it this way: I used to make numerical models for stuff flowing in pipes and if I did BS like climatologists are doing, I'd be without job in few months. In real life constantly being wrong means you're fired.

    Obviously that doesn't apply to climatology. Why?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      If I were being cynical, I'd say that they carefully set the point their predictions are due to happen to be sufficiently in the future that their career will mostly be run if and when the time comes and they're proved wrong.

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