According to a new study, known as the Unprecedented 21st-Century Drought Risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains, because of climate change, Southwestern USA is soon believed to be facing the worst drought in 1,000 years. This is NASA’s most thorough research regarding draught prediction.
The American southwest region, along with other parts of this world are expected to face unprecedented megadroughts, because of the rising carbon emissions and global warming. Ben Cook, a NASA climate scientist explains the seriousness of the situation we’ll soon have to put up with:
“Recent droughts, like the ongoing drought in California and the southwest and historical droughts like the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, these are naturally occurring droughts that typically last several years or sometimes almost a decade. In our projections with climate change, what we’re seeing is that these droughts could last 20, 30, or even 40 years, even exceeding the duration of the long-term, intense megadroughts that characterised the really arid time period known as Medieval climate anomaly.”
The study was published last Thursday in the Science Advances journal, and is based on premises coming from several climate models, one sponsored by NASA being among them. The research undoubtedly found a continuous increase in human-produced greenhouse gas emissions, which will definitely drive up the risk of severe droughts.
So in other words a megadrought is basically a drought that lasts more than three decades. We are currently facing a 12% risk of having a mega-drought. However In case greenhouse gas emissions stop increasing in the mid-21st century, Cook and his colleagues projected the likelihood of a megadrought to over 60%. Also in case greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80% probability of a decades-long mega-drought in the Southwest and Central Plains between 2050 and 2099.
In order to reach this result, researchers applied 17 climate models in order to analyse the future impact of rising temperatures on regions starting from Mexico and going through the United States and Canada.
Moreover they projected a continued rise in emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, and also looked at a scenario in which they took some action so as to cut back on greenhouse gases that resulted in lower emissions. However both approaches are extremely pessimistic.
Here’s the video that explains it all: