Scientists say a long-feared megadrought, worse than anything in recorded history, seems to be starting up in southwestern North America.
megadrought Archives - State of the Planet
Study picks apart factors that caused severe, long-lasting droughts and suggests increased risk for future.
A new book, the second in a series of primers with the Earth Institute imprint, provides an interdisciplinary overview drought, bringing together many fields including climate science, hydrology and ecology.
A 19-year drought in the American West is one of the most severe in the past 1200 years—and climate change is partially to blame, according to new research.
Human-influenced climate warming has already reduced rainfall and increased evaporation in the Mideast, worsening water shortages. Up to now, climate scientists had projected that rainfall could decline another 20 percent by 2100. But the Dead Sea cores suggest that things could become much worse, much faster.
Thousands of years before Biblical times, during a period when temperatures were unusually high, the lands around the Dead Sea now occupied by Israel, Jordan and surrounding nations suffered megadroughts far worse than any recorded by humans. Warming climate now threatens to return such conditions to this already hard-pressed region.
As the American Southwest grows hotter, the risk of severe, long-lasting megadroughts rises, passing 90 percent this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, a new study from scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory says. Aggressively reducing emissions can cut that risk.