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'Megadrought' to hammer US West as 21st century unfolds

A new research has revealed that a "megadrought" will hit the Southwest US and much of America's breadbasket, the Great Plains, late in this century.



Washington: A new research has revealed that a "megadrought" will hit the Southwest US and much of America's breadbasket, the Great Plains, late in this century.

Toby Ault from Cornell University said that the results were striking and as a society, people've 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.

Ault added that 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, explains Ault.

By examining tree rings and other physical clues, previous research had identified a period of time called Medieval Climate Anomaly, from the year 1100 to the year 1300, when megadroughts were more common.

By analyzing data from 17 state-of-the-art global climate models, the Cornell University and NASA 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 and they strike fast. A megadrought is a natural hazard, but it unfolds slowly, over a period of decades, adding that it's just another natural hazard and one people can manage, said Ault.

Ault, who wants to lower carbon dioxide emissions quickly, concluded that the time to act is now. 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 is published in the journal Science Advances. 

From Zee News

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