Megadrought plaguing western US is the worst in 1,200 years

Published on Feb 16, 2022 06:42 AM IST

The “megadrought” - a dry spell that lasts two decades or more - surpassed a drought from the late 1500s that was previously identified as the driest going back to at least the year 800, according to the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

From 2000 to 2021, temperatures in the region were 0.91 degrees Celsius above the average levels from 1950 to 1999. In picture - A kayaker paddles in Lake Oroville California.(AP)
From 2000 to 2021, temperatures in the region were 0.91 degrees Celsius above the average levels from 1950 to 1999. In picture - A kayaker paddles in Lake Oroville California.(AP)
Agencies | , Stockholm

The drought that has engulfed southwestern North America since 2000 is the most severe in 1,200 years, according to a new academic study.

The “megadrought” - a dry spell that lasts two decades or more - surpassed a drought from the late 1500s that was previously identified as the driest going back to at least the year 800, according to the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The current megadrought is more extreme because of the heat and low rainfall from summer 2020 through summer 2021, with conditions also exacerbated by human-caused climate change.

“Without climate change, the past 22 years would have probably still been the driest period in 300 years,” University of California Los Angeles geographer Park Williams, the lead author, said Monday in a statement. “But it wouldn’t be holding a candle to the megadroughts of the 1500s, 1200s or 1100s.”

The research, which studied an area from southern Montana to northern Mexico between the Pacific Ocean and Rocky Mountains, found that warmer temperatures and increasing evaporation are drying out soil and vegetation.

From 2000 to 2021, temperatures in the region were 0.91 degrees Celsius above the average levels from 1950 to 1999. Researchers used tree rings to track soil moisture over the centuries.

Plastic beyond planet’s safe limit: Study

The torrent of man-made chemical and plastic waste worldwide has massively exceeded limits safe for humanity or the planet, and production caps are urgently needed, scientists have concluded for the first time.

There are an estimated 350,000 different manufactured chemicals on the market and large volumes of them end up in the environment.

The study was undertaken, by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Chemicals and plastics are affecting biodiversity, piling additional stress on already stressed ecosystems.

Pesticides kill living organisms indiscriminately and plastics are ingested by living things.

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