Getting ready for the first megadrought caused by human culture, economics


Water level, now, at the Ward Creek Reservoir, Grand Mesa, Colorado

A vast region of the western United States, extending from California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought observed in the past 1,200 years, a study shows. The finding means the phenomenon is no longer a threat for millions to worry about in the future, but is already here.

The megadrought has emerged while thirsty, expanding cities are on a collision course with the water demands of farmers and with environmental interests, posing nightmare scenarios for water managers in fast-growing states.

Unlike historical megadroughts triggered by natural climate cycles, emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activities have contributed to the current one, the study finds. Warming temperatures and increasing evaporation, along with earlier spring snowmelt, have pushed the Southwest into its second-worst drought in more than a millennium of observations.

RTFA. Read it and weep for what humankind has wrought. Not just upon the American Southwest and those of us who live here; but, to the whole planet.

11 thoughts on “Getting ready for the first megadrought caused by human culture, economics

  1. Boiling frog says:

    “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” William Gibson (The Economist, December 4, 2003)

  2. RaPaR says:

    Humanity continues to make our own beds…….this time we’ve set them on fire. Time to sleep in them. We continue to elect moronic leaders that willfully and purposefully deny our impact on the planet for as pocketful of cash. Now let them spend it on water.

  3. Cassandra says:

    “Climatologist: Dry areas in US Southwest getting drier” (Sept 27, 2020) https://www.abqjournal.com/1501125/climatologist-dry-areas-in-us-southwest-getting-drier.html

    “Confronting Climate Change in New Mexico: Preparing the state for a hotter, drier future.” By Jason Funk Ph.D., Union of Concerned Scientists (May 2, 2016) https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/04/Climate-Change-New-Mexico-fact-sheet.pdf See also https://350newmexico.org/confronting-climate-change-in-new-mexico/
    Synopsis: earlier and more erratic springs, hotter and dryer summers, less predictable winters. Drought will return and intensify, potentially reaching the level of the Great Drought of 1276 through 1299 ( https://www.britannica.com/event/Great-Drought#ref=ref112984 ). Drought conditions will include more violent and concentrated thunderstorms, resulting in increased flash flooding that will severely impact acequias. Increasing proportion of precipitation will be falling as rain rather than snow during winter and result in less and less snowpack. Also earlier snowmelt will cause lower stream flows at critical times of the year when the reduced availability of water for irrigation will have greater consequences. Drought will result in larger and more destructive wildfires and megafires, resulting in more erosion of watersheds and rapidly increased losses of the storage capacity of reservoirs

  4. Update says:

    The man-made lakes that store water supplying millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months, dropping to levels that could trigger the federal government’s first-ever official shortage declaration and prompt cuts in Arizona and Nevada. https://apnews.com/article/business-science-general-news-government-and-politics-environment-and-nature-09302e61c5e0ef051f50459f3dcb771f
    It comes as climate change means less snowpack flows into the river and its tributaries, and hotter temperatures parch soil and cause more river water to evaporate as it streams through the drought-plagued American West. https://apnews.com/article/business-science-general-news-government-and-politics-environment-and-nature-09302e61c5e0ef051f50459f3dcb771f
    Why the intense U.S. drought is now a megadrought https://mashable.com/article/drought-us-southwest-megadrought/
    Mexico’s drought reaches critical levels as lakes dry up : Drought conditions now cover 85% of Mexico https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/mexicos-drought-reaches-critical-levels-lakes-dry-77251025

  5. Vecino says:

    “Drought In Mexico Puts Millions Of Acres Of Crops At Risk” https://fronterasdesk.org/content/1682812/drought-mexico-puts-millions-acres-crops-risk
    “More than 2 million acres of irrigated crops could be at risk in Mexico because of a lack of water. Neighboring Sonora is among the worst hit.
    A new report from Mexico’s agricultural agency shows that as of the end of March, more than half of the country’s 4.3 million acres of unharvested irrigated crops are at risk of being lost due to water shortages.
    Eighty-five percent of the country is currently experiencing drought conditions. And Sonora is among three states at the highest risk of seeing crops destroyed, according to the report.
    Agricultural production in 10 Sonoran municipalities is considered highly vulnerable. And dozens of other drought-ridden areas are considered moderately vulnerable to production loss, as the state’s dams sit at less than a third of capacity.”
    Drought monitor https://smn.conagua.gob.mx/es/climatologia/monitor-de-sequia/monitor-de-sequia-en-mexico

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