‘Worst-Case Scenario’: Human Activities Blamed for Causing Megadrought in Western US

Last year’s megadrought in the Western US was so severe that it is presently the driest ever experienced in at least 1,200 years.


(Photo : ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Human-caused Climate Change Linked to Megadrought

In 2021, a megadrought as dry as the case scenario in 2002 was recorded. It was the driest ever recorded, pushing off the previous megadrought scenario record in 1500.

It is currently the worst drought ever recorded, and the situation doesn’t seem to be cooling off from the report confirmed on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

From recent studies, climate change caused by human activities are accountable for the about 42% of this megadrought, as per CBS News.

“Climate change is changing the baseline conditions toward a drier, gradually drier state in the West, and that means the worst-case scenario keeps getting worse, But today I think we need to be even preparing for conditions in the future that are far worse than this,” Park Williams, UCLA climate hydrologist and also an author in this study, stated.

Williams had studied different soil moistures in the west using modern measurements and tree rings for historical estimates. He had also studied the current drought a few years ago and predicted that the current megadrought wouldn’t surpass that of the 1500s, adding that 2019 was a wet year, the drought would end.

But these predictions came out false after the region dried up in 2021, and the whole of California and at least three-quarters of the states recorded official megadrought between mid-may to the end of 2021.

Also Read: Drought in Western US Could Last Until 2030 Due to Climate Change

How Drought Fuel Wildfires

According to drought monitor, about 55% of Western US is experiencing drought, with 13% facing the two highest drought levels.

According to KTLA, climate change is a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns either naturally or due to human activities, but primarily due to the burning of fossils fuels which brings hotter temperatures and increases evaporation in the air.

During the experiment, Williams created a model of a hypothetical world with no human-caused warming and compared it with our current world, during the experiment, he discovered that 42% of the drought caused by human global warming and climate change. According to Williams, the megadrought wouldn’t have extended this far if not for human activites.

He further stated the association of natural disasters like wildfires in the west with the megadrought saying that drought aggravates the wildfire disasters in the west.

Low water levels at Lake Powell

(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When Will the Megadrought End?

According to Williams, there might be hope of decrease in the megadrought if there are few rainy years which might only come as a miracle.

J.T Reager, a water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had stated that the only solution that could end this disaster might be snow fall. He said, “In the West, snow is like our battery; it’s where we store water.” 

While the researchers are trying hard to find a solution to this dilemma, they only pray hoping things won’t get worst with time.

Related Article: Mega-drought Drastically Affects Colorado River, Risking Water Shortage to 40 Million People

For more news, updates about megadroughts and similar topics don’t forget to follow Nature World News!

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