A 35-year mega-drought could be hitting the Southwest soon
According to a new study, there is a significant chance that the southwestern United States will experience a “mega-drought” sometime within the next century. The chance of the drought happening is somewhere between 20% and 50%, with the chance rising to as high as 90% in certain parts of the Southwest.
A “mega-drought” is a prolonged drought that lasts at least two decades, sometimes lasting longer than three decades. These phenomenon have occurred a numerous times in human history and have generally resulted in mass migrations to areas that aren’t affected. Should this mega-drought come to pass, the United States could see a mass migration the likes of which it has never seen.
The study was done by researchers from Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the United States Geological Survey. “For the southwestern U.S., I’m not optimistic about avoiding real mega-droughts,” said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. “As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this, we are weighting the dice for mega-drought.”
California is already suffering the worst drought that is has ever experienced, with most of Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas suffering their own, albeit much less severe, droughts. While climatologists don’t know whether the droughts in the western and southwestern United States will continue, Ault says that “with ongoing climate change, this is a glimpse of things to come. It’s a preview of our future.”
Read more about the story at Motherboard.