“Megadroughts” that last for decades are threatening to strike already parched Western U.S. states by the end of the century, a new study finds, with one model predicting that a drought lasting about 35 years may be a “near certainty.”
A megadrought would bring back the devastating dustbowl conditions of the 1930s to California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, but would last for a much longer period of time, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Continue reading
More than 500 feet (150 meters) deep in places and with narrow side canyons, the shoreline of the lake is longer than the entire West Coast of the United States. It extends upstream into Utah from Arizona’s Glen Canyon Dam and provides water for Nevada, Arizona and California.
But a severe drought in recent years, combined with the tapping of the lake’s water at what many consider to be an unsustainable level, has reduced its levels to only about 42 percent of its capacity, according to the U.S. space agency NASA. Continue reading
What are we going to do once all the water is gone? Thanks to the worst drought in more than 1,000 years, the western third of the country is facing the greatest water crisis that the United States has ever seen. Lake Mead is now the lowest that it has ever been since the Hoover Dam was finished in the 1930s, mandatory water restrictions have already been implemented in the state of California, and there are already widespread reports of people stealing water in some of the worst hit areas. But this is just the beginning. Right now, in a desperate attempt to maintain somewhat “normal” levels of activity, water is being pumped out of the ground in the western half of the nation at an absolutely staggering pace. Once that irreplaceable groundwater is gone, that is when the real crisis will begin. If this multi-year drought stretches on and becomes the “megadrought” that a lot of scientists are now warning about, life as we know it in much of the country is going to be fundamentally transformed and millions of Americans may be forced to find somewhere else to live. Continue reading
The drought in California is getting a lot worse. As you read this, snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains are the lowest that have ever been recorded. That means that there won’t be much water for California farmers and California cities once again this year. To make up the difference in recent years, water has been pumped out of the ground like crazy. In fact, California has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of groundwater a year since 2011, and wells all over the state are going dry. Once the groundwater is all gone, what are people going to do? 100 years ago, the population of the state of California was 3 million, and during the 20th century we built lots of beautiful new cities in an area that was previously a desert. Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century in 1000 years for that area of the country, but now weather patterns are reverting back to normal. Today, the state of California is turning back into a desert but it now has a population of 38 million people. This is not sustainable in the long-term. So when the water runs out, where are they going to go? Continue reading
ECHO LAKE, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered officials Wednesday to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping.
Standing in dry, brown grass at a site that normally would be snow-covered this time of year, Brown announced he had signed an executive order requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to implement measures in cities and towns to cut the state’s overall water usage by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels.
The move will affect residents, businesses, farmers and other users. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
We ain’t seen nothing yet: The intense drought in California is only an appetizer compared with what’s coming this century across much of the western and central USA, according to a study out Thursday.
During the years 2050 to 2100, the Southwest and Great Plains will face a persistent “megadrought” worse than anything seen in the past 1,000 years, and the dry conditions will be “driven primarily” by human-induced global warming, scientists said. Continue reading