Too Hot, Too Dry: A Climate-Driven Megadrought is Emerging in North America

It’s been a tough year…

Listen, we’re sorry. We wish we could tell you that the earth is healing, nature is returning, and CO2 rates are normalizing like other, happier environmental blogs on the internet. But the truth is, we’re still fucked –– As a new study in the journal Science reports, a megadrought “worse than anything known from recorded history” is about to hit North America.

The study, based on modern weather observations, 1,200 years of tree-ring data, and dozens of next-gen climate models predicts that a stretch of nine U.S. states –– from Oregon and Montana down through California, New Mexico –– as well as parts of Northern Mexico are entering into a period of extreme aridity that will likely last decades.

“Earlier studies were largely model projections of the future,” lead study author Park Williams, a bioclimatologist ad Columbia University told journalists in a recent press release. “We’re no longer looking at projections, but at where we are now. We now have enough observations of current records to say that we’re on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts.”

In fact, those previous megadroughts, which records show happened in the late 800s, mid 1100s, the 1200s, and the late 1500s all began on a similar path to what is showing up now –– Unusually cool periodic conditions are settling over the tropical Pacific Ocean. Precipitation is dropping. Temperatures are rising. Water reservoirs are shrinking.

What's more, the emerging phenomena is likely going to be made worse by human-led global warming. To put it simply, "human-caused climate change transformed what might have otherwise been a moderate long-term drought into a severe event comparable to the ‘megadroughts’ of centuries past," says Swain.

It's not getting any easier, is it?

Read more on Science.