LOS ANGELES (AP) — Already dealing with parched conditions, the U.S. Southwest faces the threat of megadroughts this century as temperatures rise, says a new study that found the risk is reduced if heat-trapping gases are curbed.
Oppressive dry spells lasting at least two decades have gripped the Southwest before, but scientists said future megadroughts would be hotter and more severe, putting a strain on water resources.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, is the latest to find that droughts more extreme than what is currently being experienced could become more common as the planet warms.
Using computer modeling, researchers calculated there’s between a 70 percent and 90 percent chance the Southwest will experience a megadrought later this century.
If precipitation is below normal, the risk jumps to 99 percent — “virtually certain,” said lead researcher Toby Ault of Cornell University.