Dust Bowl Unrivaled

Nature

Atmospheric conditions and human actions combined to drive the 1930s megadrought

Farms failed and livestock starved in the central United States during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s. The event was not just the region’s worst dry spell in modern memory — it was the worst in North America over the past millennium, researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters.… Read the rest

Bird origin for 1918 flu pandemic

Nature

Model also links avian influenza strains to deadly horse flu.

The virus that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic probably sprang from North American domestic and wild birds, not from the mixing of human and swine viruses. A study published today in Nature reconstructs the origins of influenza A virus and … Read the rest

Caribou genetics reveal shadow of climate change

Nature

Ancient ice ages that shaped modern caribou populations may foretell animals’ fate in a warmer world.

When ice sheets marched across North America 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum, they devoured liveable areas for caribou and isolated them from their Eurasian relatives for thousands of years.

Now researchers have evidence that such climatic events have sculpted the genetics of North American caribou, which may make the animals … Read the rest