“We now have enough observations of current drought and tree-ring records of past drought to say that we’re on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts.”
Researchers claim the region’s 19-year drought, from 2000–2018, already rivals that of any over the past 1,200 years.
“We’re no longer looking at projections, but at where we are now,” said lead author Park Williams, a bio-climatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in a statement. “We now have enough observations of current drought and tree-ring records of past drought to say that we’re on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts.”
For the study, published in the journal Science, Williams and the other researchers looked at nine U.S. states, stretching from Oregon and Montana at the northern and southward through California and New Mexico. The researchers also included a portion of northern Mexico in the study.
Using tree ring data to infer yearly soil moisture and plot out the pre-modern data, the researchers documented four mega-droughts—multi-decade droughts—beginning in 800 AD.
The southwest’s current drought was worse compared to the ones that took place in the late 800s, mid-1100s, and the 1200s. The most severe mega-drought on record began in 1575, though researchers said the difference between that Medieval one and the current was slight.
And while natural variability played a role in the current drought, the scientists estimate about half the blame—47 percent—lies with the Earth’s heating, as warmer air is able to suck up more ground moisture.
According to coauthor Benjamin Cook of Lamont and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “It doesn’t matter if this is exactly the worst drought ever” but that “it has been made much worse than it would have been because of climate change.”
Natural variability that can drive drought will likely continue, as will global warming, threatening further upheaval for a region already facing groundwater depletion.
“Because the background is getting warmer, the dice are increasingly loaded toward longer and more severe droughts,” added Williams.
“We may get lucky, and natural variability will bring more precipitation for a while,” he said. “But going forward, we’ll need more and more good luck to break out of drought, and less and less bad luck to go back into drought.”
Andrea Germanos is a staff writer at Common Dreams.
Until we begin thinking holisticly- interconnectivity of all, instead of fighting over singular profit driven economic means we will continue to see earths natural environment disapear; to be replaced with a totally artificial life style.
The world’s largest surveillance and military data computer is located within one of US most dry states with some of most subsidized irrigated farm lands, and uses earths aquifer for millions ofgallons yearly
Now they are going to build a Nuclear power plant that will need hundreds of millions more gallons waterm yearly, and tis in a State where solar derived energy could be plentifull.
Mining in Grand canyon has been approved which is the headwaters for billions of water gallons to slate California’s thirst.
There are hundred thousand plus cracking well heads where each need water as pumping process; average 4.5 gallons of water per gallon of some dirtiest oils that require even more water for refining.
Trump and his cabinet just opened millions more acres of public lands for cracking contracts while increasing numbers of wells per sites acerage.
HOW COME TRUMP WANTS RUSSIA, ME UAE AND AFRICN CONCERNS TO LOWER OIL PRODUCTION WHILE SUBSIDIZING INCREASED DRILLINGS AND OF US EXPORTS?
Desalination is very expensive process and one reason is amounts of pollutants, including radiation especially in Pacific Ocean waters and the increasing amounts in growth of toxic algaes along US eastern and gulf seacoast
Yearly the mighty Columbia rivers yearly red tide reaches further inland and north running ocean beaches.
The oyster farms cannot grow natural larvae but have to import from Hawaii and Asia.
Shrimp, majority come from Vietnam, are fed pig, rabbit, dog, cat chicken and duck offal or dying and dead, in waters containing Agent Orange.
Japan under Clinton Obama trade agreement after Fukushima that allowed raisesn in US pollution levels, that are allowed to ship and sell its polluted and radiated fish to US that is illegal to eat in Japan.
No major body of water within US contain fish that are safely edible by a pregnant woman,none.
Every major and semi major municipal water system averages over 3 24 hour periods per month where people recieve untreated and unhealthy drinking water.
PS : some plastic bottled water comes streight fromm municipal water systems.
The largest underground aquifer in WA State is undrinkable because of Hanford Nuclear Rdiation, and while today seepage into Columbia is minorbwithin 7 more years it will be draining directly millions of gallons into it yearly.
So be happy in Texas that theirState did not and still does not admit millions are drinking polluted and irradiated waters.
We have oil pipelines all over the United States. We have too much oil and not enough water. Why not use these pipelines to ship water where we need it. Just a few years back, Texas had a draught while Louisiana was flooded. Aren’t those two states next door to each other.
That’s a good idea.
When these water crises first made the news I said to friends that a water pipeline network such as the ones we have for oil and natural gas would be a good idea.
Together with solar powered de-salination plants, it appears it will be a necessity if the S. West is to remain a viable area for human habitation.
America has long been farming in southwestern regions which historically border on being desert with very low groundwater.
It has used irrigation in poor practices that have leached up salts in the soil, rendering it sterile, too. You can see this over good-sized stretches of southern California.
Global warming will only add to the many man-made problems.
Why not water transfer or diversion as a solution?
Libya under Qaddafi had nearly fully completed The Great Man-Made River, what was then the largest water irrigation project in the world- one that tapped into the aquifers of the Sahara desert and provided major drought and development solutions for Libya and its neighbors- and was built without U.S. contractors, but in 2011, one of the plants making pipes for the project was bombed by NATO. According to Wikipedia, since the civil war, over 20% of the wells have been dismantled, and on April 10, 2010 a station controlling water flow to Tripoli was seized and water cut to over 2 million people.
The Chinese have been working on its own huge water transfer project- the South to North Water Project- and have already completed several legs.
Why has the US not considered water diversion from regions flush with water (including coastal areas which could support desalinization) to areas that are arid, instead of investing trillions in wars that destroy and gain nothing other than profits for the MIC.
And would that not be a more socially useful solution for providing employment than building a border wall?
And then there is the issue of deteriorating pipelines in hundreds of communities like Flint, Michigan, that render water unsafe to drink.
While Elon Musk is funding a space program, and manufacturing cars with sometimes defective batteries, it’s almost as if we’ve lost the technology and will to face major challenges in our own backyard- for example, after the San Francisco Bay Bridge was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake, the local authorities had to look to China to manufacture its replacement because the U.S. steel manufacturers lacked the capability to meet the specs.
Rupert Murdoch has, for 50 years, spearheaded an effort to return to pro-fascist faction of the the ruling class in the White English countries to power after Churchill and Roosevelt booted them during the war.
He has used his huge media empire as a propaganda arm of this movement.
His first success was in Australia, removing a moderately Leftist gov’t.
His next broke the gates wide open.
He was the main force behind M. Thatcher.
Her policy was a simple as it was radical.
She and her backers realized they would never be free of the threat of working class political parties unless the working class itself was neutralized.
So she reversed the industrialization of Britain.
Reagan copied this policy and so we have lost many of our industry – much of it to China.
One might think the workers would rise up to prevent this, but the divide and conquer strategy focusing upon ethnic rivalry and appeals to authoritarian personalities which make up a sizable portion of the population have succeeded in dividing the workers.
Indispensable to this program has been Murdoch’s media empire.
Efforts to run this same program in the E.U. met with limited success, so Britain had to get out, as far as the pro-fascist Right was concerned.
The main support for Brexit was, from the very beginning, from Murdoch’s mouthpieces.
All this means that the English countries are on a collision course with the rest of the world and with many of their own people.
This is why American heavy industry is a shadow of its former self.
Sounds too extreme, right?
Much of the info for this viewpoint came from articles in The Economist.
Check out for yourselves Murdoch’s history.
Check out Rudolf Hess’s plane flight to Scotland just before the invasion of Russia to negotiate a separate peach with pro-fascists and defeatist bigwigs.
So this confirms what Greta Thunberg has been whining on about recently. Why did Trump have to go and spoil it by withdrawing the US from the Paris Accords on climate change. Everyone knew that not all the signatories were going to pull their weight by enacting the required legislation country by country. But it was a start, in a new and necessary direction. The whole World needs to get behind this and make a sustained effort to meet deadlines on emissions, deal thoroughly with plastic recycling etc. That includes the big 3 polluters, the US, China and India.