Scientists have stated that Southwestern USA could be set for its worst drought in 1,000 years because of climate change.
According to the study, called the ‘Unprecedented 21st-Century Drought Risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains’, parts of the US might face the so-called ‘drought age’. It might last for a whole decade. It will make it nearly impossible to carry on with normal life because of the adverse effects, which will be caused by these mega-droughts.
Jason Smerdon, climatologist at the Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a co-author of the study, said, “The 21st-century projections make the [previous] mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.”
For their study, the scientists used data derived from tree rings, whose growth patterns show the effects of dry and wet years, sampled across North America, and soil moisture, rainfall and evaporation records, and the seventeen climate models to study the effects of future temperature rise on the region.
The scientists stated that the drought conditions in the past decade gave them an indication of the troubles that will be present in the near future for America. Since 2000, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have faced drought-like situations. In California, which is undergoing its fourth year of drought, the state has seen its worst dry spell in 1,200 years. Many farmers have sold off herds, growers have abandoned fields and cities have imposed water rationing. During the last decade, numerous states have experienced severe water shortages, with 64 million people affected.
“We haven’t seen this kind of prolonged drought even certainly in modern US history. What this study has shown is the likelihood that multi-decadal events comprising year after year after year of extreme dry events could be something in our future,” added Smerdon.
The scientists believe that increasing water resources demand, groundwater loss, drier conditions and higher temperatures in the future, which will exacerbate the impacts of future droughts, will present a major challenge.
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.