Millennial mega-drought in southwestern North America

The 20-year-old megadrought in southwestern North America is the worst in 1,200 years, according to a study published Monday, Feb. 14, which highlights that this episode, exacerbated by climate change, is likely to continue into 2022.

The western United States and northern Mexico have suffered from an exceptional drought since 2000, now exceeding two decades, which allows it to be classified as “mega droughtAfter exceptionally severe drought in 2021, about 19% of which is due to human-induced climate change, the 2000-2021 period was the driest 22-year period since at least the year 800.the researchers write in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. Due to very high temperatures and little precipitation between summer 2020 and summer 2021, this mega drought issurpassed the seriousnessfrom that of the late 1500s, which was previously the worst in the 1,200 years assessed by scientists, according to a statement from UCLA University in Los Angeles.

Climate change

And since 2000, soil moisture deficits have been twice the level of any drought in the 20th century. Also this episodeis likely to last until the year 2022, reaching the duration of the megadrought of the late 1500sthe study says. Even if the rains return, the effects are likely to continue in this area stretching from southern Montana to northern Mexico, from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. †It is highly unlikely that this drought can simply be ended by a rainy year.commented lead author Park Williams, a geographer at UCLA. †Without climate change, the past 22 years would probably still have been the driest in 300 years“, but “without coming close to the mega-droughts of the 1500s, 1200s and 1100she also said in a press release.

According to the study, climate change related to human activities, which multiplies the number of heat waves and disrupts the rainfall regime, is responsible for 42% of the soil moisture deficit in the 2000-2021 period in this area, and 19% in 2021. in particular, the United States last August prompted the federal government to issue water restrictions for the first time in history on Lake Mead, the nation’s largest man-made reservoir, fed by the Colorado River.

Leave a Comment