Warming Makes US West Megadrought Worst In Modern Age

Apr 16, 2020

A new study finds that much of the western United States is baking in what scientists call an emerging megadrought.

This March 31, 2018 photo provided by researcher A. Park Williams shows the Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona. A two-decade-long dry spell that has parched much of the western United States is turning into one of the deepest megadroughts in the region in more than 1,200 years, and about half of this historic drought can be blamed on man-made global warming, according to a study released Thursday, April 16, 2020 in the journal Science.
Credit A. Park Williams/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory via AP

Thursday's study in the journal Science blames almost half the problem on man-made global warming, which scientists say is only getting worse. Multi-decade deep droughts happen every couple of hundred years. But the current one is one of the most severe since the year 800. Some scientists say this drought, which started in 2000, may not have lasted long enough yet to qualify as a megadrought.