The drought in California is persisting even after significant rainfall. It’s a bad situation, but it is absolutely nothing compared to what is in store for the Central Plains and Southwestern region of the United States in the next 100 years.
Scientists had already found that the Southwestern United States were at great risk of experiencing a significant megadrought (in this case meaning drought conditions that last for over 35 years) before the end of the 21st century. But a new study published in Science Advances added some grim context to those predictions.
Columbia University climate scientists Jason Smerdon and Benjamin Cook, and Cornell University’s Toby Ault were co-authors on the study. They took data from tree rings and other environmental records of climate from the Southwest and compared them to the projections of 17 different climate models that look at precipitation and soil moisture. When they made the comparison between past and future, they found that all the models agreed: the next big megadrought is coming, and it will be way worse than anything we’ve seen in over 1,000 years–including droughts that have been credited with wiping out civilizations.
“We are the first to do this kind of quantitative comparison between the projections and the distant past, and the story is a bit bleak,” Smerdon said in a press release. “Even when selecting for the worst megadrought-dominated period, the 21st century projections make the megadroughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.”
Full article: Worst Drought In 1,000 Years Forecasted For The U.S. (Popular Science)