According to the predictions of NASA, the western United States will encounter mega-droughts in the second half of the current century, which will be the worst seen in 1,000 years. The researchers opine that the drought may continue for multiple decades and will probably be more severe than the one which had hit the Pueblo civilization of the previous millennia. The research team mentioned that the Southwest and Central Plains of the U.S. will be affected by “Unprecedented drought conditions” after 2050. The research has been detailed in the journal Science Advances.
NASA’s Benjamin Cook, an atmospheric scientist and the study’s lead scientist commented “Nearly every year is going to be dry toward the end of the 21st century compared to what we think of as normal conditions now.” The research team has estimated that there is an 80 percent chance that a mega-drought will hit the West in the latter part of the century, continuing for 35 years or longer. The regions which will be worse affected include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Cornell University researcher Toby Ault suggests that the predicted mega-drought will make water a ‘precious’ commodity in these regions.
The prediction has been made on the basis of tree-ring records and a series of intricate computer simulation models. The researchers also considered the rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere for making assessments. Tree ring studies have revealed that between 1100s and 1200s a number of mega-droughts affected the Southwest and Central Plains. Although during the predicted mega-drought much of the west and Central Plains will receive scanty rainfall, the major issue will be the heat. Researchers opine that high temperatures will result in high evaporation rates and drying out of soil. The situation will then worsen with the air growing hotter.