Study Finds Current Drought Conditions to be Worst in 1200 Years

Feb. 25, 2022
Anyone living in the Southwest is well-aware that the region has been facing extended drought. The period since 2000 has been deemed a megadrought, and experts predict conditions will continue to worsen due to climate change. The region has experienced cycles of drought for centuries, but a new study published in Nature Climate Change has found that the Western US and Northern Mexico are experiencing the worst drought conditions in 1200 years. The study was led by UCLA Hydroclimatologist and Associate Professor of Geography Park Williams. Williams spoke with NPR about the study, noting that “it really is time for us to get real about how much water there is to use.” The study attributes some of the severity of the drought to climate change. Speaking with the New York Times, Williams explained that in the absence of climate change, the current drought “would have been only about 60 percent” of the severity seen today. In a KJZZ interview about the study and what it says about the future of Arizona, WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal noted that in AZ, “we know that we have to plan appropriately for our future, and water is a big component of that.” She emphasized that while there is uncertainty over which solutions will be used to address the problem, AZ has no shortage of potential solutions.
Image: Lake Powell, Claire Harbage/NPR