A 'megadrought' will hit the Southwest US and much of America's breadbasket, the Great Plains, late in this century, revealed a research by Cornell University and NASA.
Researcher Toby Ault said, "The results were striking and as a society, people have weighted the dice toward megadrought because data clearly point to a high risk in the Southwest and Great Plains, as they continue to add carbon dioxide into atmosphere. However, if people manage to get serious about lowering greenhouse gases within the next 10 years, they could face a lower risk. With a drier future and higher regional temperatures amplifying possible late-century droughts, the situation presents a major adaptation challenge for managing the region's water needs."
By analyzing data from 17 state-of-the-art global climate models, the researchers learned that western North America's future drought risk exceeded even the driest centuries of the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Hurricanes and tornadoes are natural hazards which strike fast. Ault said, "A megadrought is a natural hazard, but it unfolds slowly, over a period of decades, and it's just another natural hazard and one people can manage."
Researchers concluded that the time to start planning for adaptation is now as people need to assess what the rest of this century will look like for their children and grandchildren.
The study appears in the journal Science Advances.