Study: Warming's Pushing The West Into A 'Megadrought'

Apr 20, 2020
Originally published on April 27, 2020 10:29 am

A new study in the journal Science says that human-driven climate change is pushing the American West into a megadrought, and into its driest period in more than 400 years.


The research found that yes, we are in a cyclical pattern of dryness in the West. But it also found human-driven climate change has made it much worse.

"When you have these changes that are induced by humans, it took what would have been a regular drought within the normal range of variability, to an extreme megadrought," said study co-author Andrew Badger, a hydrological scientist with the Universities Space Research Association and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Researchers found that the period between 2000 to 2018 was the area's driest 19-year stretch since the late 1500s. And the megadrought period before that was more than 1000 years ago.

"This appears to be just the beginning of a more extreme trend toward megadrought as global warming continues," the study states.

In addition to hydrological and climate change modeling, researchers looked at thousands of tree rings to calculate past soil moisture levels.

Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8

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