Human-caused climate change significant driver of destructive conditions as even drier decades lay ahead, researchers say
“Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the west has been dry for most of the last couple decades,” says Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the study’s lead author. “We now know from these studies that is dry not only from the context of recent memory but in the context of the last millennium.”
Turning up the temperature – the result of human caused warming – has played a big part. Other studies show how the climate crisis “will increasingly enhance the odds of long, widespread and severe megadroughts”, the researchers write. Noting that as the west is now in the midst of the driest 22-year period in knowable history, “this worst-case scenario already appears to be coming to pass”.
The research builds on conclusions from a previous study, also led by Williams, that ranked the period between 2000 and 2018 as the second driest in 12 centuries. The last two incredibly dry years – which were marked by record-setting heatwaves, receding reservoirs, and a rise in dangerously erratic blazes that burned both uncontrollably and unseasonably – were enough to push this period into first.
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