How Climate Change Played A Part In Worst Drought In 1,200 Years

A new study found that as direct result of the global climate crisis, the drought in southwestern U.S. that lasted between 2000 and 2018 is easily among the most severe that struck that region in the last 1,200 years or so.

Last Drought Among The Most Severe In U.S.

The drought in southwestern United States that lasted from 2000 up until 2018 is not a surprise, given just how worse the climate crisis is at right now. As it turns out, it may just be a taste of worse things to come since a new study revealed that the drought is easily one of the most severe ones that struck the country in the last 1,200 years, made around 47 percent more severe due to climate change.

Led by Park Williams, hydroclimatologist at Columbia University, alongside his colleagues, the study was made by collecting tree ring records from 1,586 sites across the western United States and northwestern Mexico (which easily amounts to thousands upon thousands of trees) and fashioning a climate record for it, which goes back to as far as the year 800. Per the study findings published Friday in the journal Science, several, intense “mega-droughts” ravaged the region between the years 850 and 1600, at a scale that has not been seen again until the most recent one.

“Over the last two decades, we’ve had a cluster of more La Niña–like years than El Niño–like years,” Williams said.

However, La Niña isn’t the only thing to blame for the droughts because an examination of 31 other climate simulations that strip away common temperature and precipitation trends revealed that without today’s man-made climate change, the drought would be around 47 percent less severe.

Per Williams, these findings add new, substantial evidence to the theory that rising global temperatures have greatly exacerbated the impact of such climate events, making them worse or just warping how they usually work.

“The take-home is that the West is in a serious drought; not [just] the worst in 50 years, but on a millennial-type timescale of importance,” he said.

The U.S. Is Experiencing A Historical Drought In Seven States The drought in California and six other states will eventually affect our food supply. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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