Researchers warned the Americans that a decades-long megadrought awaits the southwest of the country if they do not take immediate action against climate change. The Colorado river might soon be facing one of the most severe droughts it had ever occurred.
Colorado was once one of the biggest rivers in the United States. However, since the 1960s, it kept failing to reach the ocean. If this was not enough, studies show that it might soon experience one of the worst droughts that might last 15 years. Also, the records show that the flow of water in this drought might be almost a fifth lower than the average flow typical for 20th century.
Moreover, the researchers warn that the water in the river could be reduced up to 55 percent by the end of the 21st century if immediate action against the greenhouse gas emissions is not taken. These emissions cause the rising of temperatures, which further cause the evaporation of the water or make plants absorb more water than usual.
The study suggests that, if rainfall rates do not increase, the risk of megadrought will reach 90 percent. Even with precipitations of a medium rate, the risk will still be higher than 70 percent. Only an immeasurably huge increase, which is unlikely to occur, would render the risk of megadrought somewhere below 50 percent.
Around 40 million people who live in seven U.S. states and even more who live in Mexico use water from the Colorado river. The researchers discovered that the flow of the river between 2000 and 2014 was 19 percent lower than the average flow recorded from 1906 to 1999. This represents, on average, the amount of water that is used by two million people in a year.
Unfortunately, water managers have not adapted their plans according to these low rates, since they underestimate the danger posed by climate change and global warming. But a change of plans might be difficult and a megadrought would only make things worse.
Also, statistics show that the temperatures during previous megadroughts were much lower than they are now, which indicates the large extent this imminent drought might take. The experts suggest one way to try to stop the lowering water rates of the Colorado river. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions aggressively, as much as possible, and take action immediately.
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