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NASA Warns US Southwest Facing a Long Term MegaDrought

By , February 14th, 2015 | 18 Comments »

NASA study says the US southwest faces a megadrought
There are those who strongly believe that man-made climate change will destroy the earth — and others who just as strongly deny such claims. Regardless of your own views about this debate, it is clear that places in the United States (think the American West, from California to Texas and Oklahoma) have been experiencing severe drought conditions for 11 of the past 14 years and a new study conducted by NASA, Columbia University and Cornell University scientists suggests that this situation will likely get much worse.

The authors of the study used climate models and soil moisture to predict the “likelihood of dryness” over the next century under various scenarios (e.g. continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions). The 17 computer models used showed a high degree of correlation and so the authors then used data from tree rings to determine weather patterns from the present-day back to the year 1000 AD. One of the study co-authors said in a statement that even the worst megadrought from the past would pale in comparison to 21st-century projections. In particular, the authors used their collected data to determine that continued increases in global temperature would increase the chances of a 35-year of longer “megadrought,” which would affect the Southwest and central Great Plains area of the United States by 2100.

What is the likelihood that such a drought occurs? The scientists believe the chances are above 80 percent if the world continues its “current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.” However, the likelihood of such an occurrence does depend on future levels of gas emissions. For example, the chance of a megadrought might drop to between 60 and 70 percent in the Great Plains if countries reduce their emissions to “middle of the road” targets, as described by National Geographic. Unfortunately, even such reductions would not reduce the chance that a megadrought would arrive in the Southwest. As the study’s lead author, Benjamin Cook, said in a statement, “Even at the middle-of-the-road scenario, we see enough warming and drying to push us past the worst droughts experienced in the region since the medieval era.”

Sadly, the effects of such a prolonged dry spell would be catastrophic, affecting everything from agriculture, the economy, ecosystems, health and city water supplies. Already, California has been impacted by many changes in its agriculture and water supply, for example, as it suffers through an ongoing drought that’s the worst in the state’s recorded history. In conditions of severe drought, as clean water becomes scarce, public sanitation and personal hygiene would also decrease, whereas wildfires would become more prevalent, leading to extensive property damages; these are only some potential consequences. The cost to both the economy and individuals could be huge.

According to National Geographic, this present study is only the most recent in a group of studies that has predicted significant challenges for those who make their homes in the American West. As Cook continued in his statement, “The real challenge is whether we can take strategies we have now and apply them to the more severe droughts that are likely in the future.”

(Photo courtesy of Kecko)

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  • Frank says:

    Another study by scarebama liberals trying to get us to stop using oil and go green. Stop smoking your weed and look at the facts. The world warms and cools all the time. It’s how it works.

    • Deana says:

      I’m not sure you can call NASA an Obama liberal and still be taken seriously…

      • DrCruel says:

        I think the argument is that there are “Obama liberals” at NASA.

        In any event, it’s irrelevant. The US market share of the global economy has been steadily declining over the last few decades, while that of Asian nations have steadily increased. Leaders of the PRC government in particular do not care about the environment, and most certainly do not care how their activities affect the agricultural output of the US Southwest. Indeed, a decline in US agricultural output is likely to help their own economic growth.

        The US will long be past the ability to dominate economic affairs by the year 2100. Whether or not we are emitting carbon into the atmosphere by then will be immaterial – even assuming the dubious theory that man-made CO2 has a dramatic effect on the global environment.

        • featherknife says:

          Absolutely correct. Immaterial. Won’t amount to a hill of beans. Unless, of course, you understand that this is a global problem, which needs a global solution. The decline of the United States is a result of this countries problems with education, hairbrained politics that rely on the opinion of a poorly educated electorate instead of scientific data, greed, and the polarity that keeps us from working together on the serious problems we confront. If we cannot get our act together to address these problems, we deserve to be at the bottom of the trash heap when it all goes down. Our failures as a nation and as individuals is driving the bus with no brakes that is heading down the hill of lost opportunities, and into the land fill of collapsed civilizations. Good job America!

      • bbfine says:

        Agree, …if you live in one of the already affected areas, it’s kind of hard denying it,

  • PuWeiTa says:

    A severe drought by 2100 affects mainly people not yet born and do not vote. These scientists are asking people living today to do something for the unborn?

    See the problem?

  • Climate Science is Stronger than You says:

    This author starts off all wrong by mixing up ‘belief’ and ‘understand’ … religious people ‘believe’ in things like magical gods and that science is all conspiracies, yet they don’t speak the language of Science so they can’t prove anything.

    Scientists and other logic minded people *understand* the Science behind mystery because they pay attention. The real -miracle- of Science is that all the methods and data are presented for anyone to replicate the process. There’s a reason why 98% of the worlds Scientists agree with the predictions in Climate Science.

    If you think you can do better, then by speaking the language of Science you are welcome to challenge the results…

    Otherwise your opinions have 0 merit.

  • otay says:

    Hello. We’re a reactionary species. We wait until it happens and then find a work-around. Governments will have to force mankind to do the right things and not do the wrong things if anything proactively substantial is going to happen.

  • Joe Kain says:

    You know even if its a natural thing or a man made thing, “Climate change”, the general public has the information and the power to reduce greenhouse gas, pollution, resource management, etc. I hope people begin to believe the idea in which they do not need a group of scientists, College people, Government panels or anyone else to just start testing better habits of living.

  • Russell says:

    So a desert is going to stay a desert? How alarming! And yes, NASA has become a tool of the left’s climate change scam. Anyone with who actually visits the NASA page on a regular basis has noticed that there is always something reference climate change right up front. In fact, those articles are often the first ones you will find.

    • Pete says:

      Maybe the fact that these articles are more prevelant nowadays is not caused by politics but simply because of the fact that it IS BECOMING MORE OF A PROBLEM. Duh. Use all of your little brain please.

  • Stan Kerns says:

    Well–it is inescapable that a warmer Earth is a wetter Earth. To base your prognostications on tree ring data from the last thousand years is to base your theories on data from a time we call “The Little Ice Age”–a time of cold and cooling–nothing like what they are predicting. Yesterday I heard one of them on PBS who actually said “oven if it is wetter the heat would make the moisture evaporate–guess he didn’t know “what goes up must come down”–now to a real fact–during the Eocene it was 9 degrees warmer than today–plants and animals did so well we call it the Eocene Optimum–closer to today, a hundred fifty thousand years ago it was slightly warmer than today–and they didn’t cite a shread of data from that period (The Third Intraglacial)–probably didn’t fit their “computer model”–which can be constructed to say absolutely anything you please.

    • Allergy2pnut says:

      It’s been globaly announced and proven that last year was the worlds hottest year on record, ever.. Your argument is invalid.. And Frank, if rather smoke weed than your carbon emissions ANY day of the week.

  • jayden says:

    The drought conditions, which aren’t probable but CERTAIN.. have nothing to do with AGW, or even non-anthropogenic climate change. The water is being consumed by booming populations and agriculture. This is pathetic journalism.

  • mememine69 says:

    The scientific consensus is that 97.6% of all climate scientists are 95% certain that it only “could” lead to unstoppable warming and not one CO2 scientist has ever said they are not “allowed” to say “proven” leaving climate change “believers” as pure fear mongers.
    Science never lied or committed a hoax, you conservative hating “believers” exaggerated a crisis to billions of children. But deniers don’t forget have prevented climate action for 34 years only because “believers” tell children it’s “proven” yet science has never said it.
    Who’s the neocon now?


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