Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Southwest US faces megadrought

  • Written by  Tom Hart
  • Published in Climate
Southwest US faces megadrought Shutterstock
01 Oct
2014
Scientists at Cornell University have predicted that the US Southwest faces a 20–50 per cent chance of experiencing a decades-long ‘megadrought’ this century

This August California experienced an exceptional drought, while Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas experienced moderate to exceptional droughts. ‘With ongoing climate change, this is a glimpse of things to come. It’s a preview of our future,’ said study co-author Toby Ault, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell.

A megadrought in the region could last up to 30 years. ‘The West and Southwest must look for mitigation strategies to counter megadroughts,’ said Ault. ‘This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years and would pose unprecedented challenges to water resources in the region.’ These are conservative predictions, according to the study.

Computer models generated for the study show that California, Arizona and New Mexico are most at risk from a megadrought. ‘These results help us take the long view of future risk in the Southwest – and the picture is not pretty,’ said study co-author Professor Julia Cole. ‘We hope this opens up new discussions about how to best use and conserve the precious water we have.’

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

Increasing reports of seized jaguar fangs and skin suggest that…

Geophoto

Forced isolation has given many of us the chance to…

Oceans

A fifth of the ocean floor has now been mapped,…

Wildlife

Four ex-circus lions discovered in France are due to be…

Oceans

A roundup of some of the top discussions from the…

Energy

The agave plant, used to make Tequila, has proven itself…

Climate

Concerns about the ozone hole have diminished as levels of…

Wildlife

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Munu – a…

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…

Climate

With Milan announcing an ambitious new plan to reduce air…