Sunday, February 15, 2015

If you think the U.S. Southwest is thirsty now, just wait

US faces worst droughts in 1,000 years, predict scientists

Climate change is likely to cause decade-long mega-droughts across US south-west and Great Plains, new study shows

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, The Guardian

The US south-west and the Great Plains will face decade-long droughts far worse than any experienced over the last 1,000 years because of climate change, researchers said on Thursday.

The coming drought age – caused by higher temperatures under climate change – will make it nearly impossible to carry on with current life-as-normal conditions across a vast swathe of the country.

The droughts will be far worse than the one in California – or those seen in ancient times, such as the calamity that led to the decline of the Anasazi civilizations in the 13th century, the researchers said.

“The 21st-century projections make the [previous] mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the garden of Eden,” said Jason Smerdon, a co-author and climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Researchers have long known that the south-west and Great Plains will dry out over the second half of the 21st century because of rising temperatures under climate change.

But this was the first time researchers found those droughts would be far worse even than those seen over the millennia.

(Continued here. Original study here.)

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