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A Comparative Analysis of Surface Winds in the Mid-Continental United States of America During Severe Droughts in the 1950s and 2010s.

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The Mid-Continental United States of America (USA) has experienced several exceptional droughts, which are frequently linked with increased dust storms in response to reduced vegetation and intensified surface wind speeds. This investigation examined surface wind speed behavior in the Mid-Continental USA between 1954 and 2016 to assess differences in wind speeds between severe drought and wetter periods and determine what climatic conditions may have influenced these changes. Results show that droughts periods had significantly higher extreme surface wind speeds, and the 1950s Southwest drought had significantly higher surface wind speeds compared to the 2010s drought. Composite patterns of sea-level pressure, temperature, precipitation, and Palmer Drought Severity Index suggest that synoptic weather conditions reinforce dry and windy conditions during drought vs wetter years. However, synoptic conditions were largely similar between the two droughts, suggesting that land surface management practices may have been responsible for decreased surface winds during the 2010s drought.
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