June 13, 2022

According to new research, the searing “megadrought” that has gripped the southwest U.S. for more than two decades is the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years. The scientific record, which started around the year 800, shows the region hasn’t seen a more severe drought. Via the Scientific American:

An exceptionally dry year in 2021 helped break the record. Before last year, a previous megadrought occurring in the late 1500s was the only other drought known to be worse than today. A megadrought is typically defined as a severe dry period lasting at least a couple of decades.

The current event has been strongly influenced by human-caused climate change, the study said. In fact, without the influence of global warming, today’s conditions probably wouldn’t be classified as a megadrought at all.

“It probably wouldn’t even be a continuous drought,” said Benjamin Cook, a NASA climate scientist and a co-author of the new study, published in Nature Climate Change. “We still would have had a drought. It still would have been reasonably bad. But it would be nowhere near the record-breaking event that we’re seeing right now.

Go read the whole thing, especially if you're concerned about the water supply.

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