Water Shortages Will Intensify

The past year has been the driest or second driest in most Southwestern states since record keeping began in 1895. Almost 75 percent of the American West is experiencing severe drought, which puts more than 57 million people in harm’s way. While the West has long experienced boom and bust cycles of precipitation, climate change is increasing the volatility and intensity of these cycles.

While drought and dry weather occur naturally in the region, the increasing temperatures pushing the American West over the edge are caused by humans. Some scientists suggest that the word drought is no longer accurate, because it implies that the water shortages may end. According to their analysis, the added heat and winds from climate change supercharged the drying process, making the current drought the second worst in the last 1,200 years. The Colorado and Rio Grande rivers are trickling compared to their long-term averages.

Thanks to global warming and climate change, we can’t rely on the past to predict the future.

Climate change, in tandem with human reshaping of the natural hydrological systems—by damming rivers, growing vast fields of crops, and more—have shifted the baseline conditions so thoroughly that there is no way to return to what used to be considered normal. Farms and cities have begun imposing water restrictions.

These catastrophic conditions are influenced by many factors, including a La Niña that began last fall. A La Niña makes it more likely that Pacific storm systems curve northward toward the Pacific Northwest and Canada rather than California and the Southwest.

“It’s incredible, how much of the West is in extreme or exceptional drought right now, including much of the Colorado and Rio Grande basins, the two lifelines of the Southwest,” said Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project.

Summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are now higher than they have been in the last 1,200 years. Climate change has bumped up average air temperatures 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the region in just the past 100 years, which evaporates more water from streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, plants and soil.

Today’s catastrophic conditions are influenced by many factors, including a La Niña that began last fall. A La Niña makes it more likely that Pacific storm systems curve northward toward the Pacific Northwest and Canada rather than California and the Southwest.

“Much of the West is in extreme or exceptional drought, including much of the Colorado and Rio Grande basins,” said Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project.

Summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are higher than they have been in the last 1,200 years. Climate change has pushed average air temperatures up by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the region in just the past 100 years, which evaporates more water from streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, plants and soil.

Read the full story about global warming, climate change and the future of the American West https://crossbowcommunications.com/drought-threatens-millions-across-american-west/

Earth News

Earth News is a division of Crossbow Communications. Earth News is a syndicated environmental news service. The company covers a variety of health and environmental issues, including biodiversity, chronic wasting disease, climate change, deforestation, endangered species, global warming, neurodegenerative disease, neurotoxins, wildlife conservation and more.