The future of Southwestern farming?
Southwestern USA could be set for its worst drought in 1,000 years because of climate change. Numerous states have experienced severe water shortages, with 64 million people affected
. Researchers say things could get worse.
The arid conditions in the southwest of the United States and the Great Plains have been caused by higher temperatures, while ground water supplies are shrinking. Studies by scientists using computer models show that the US could be in for its worst droughts since the 12th and 13th centuries.
"The 21st-century projections make the [previous] mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden,"
Progressing drought regions of Southwest USA.
said Jason Smerdon, who was a co-author of the paper, which was published in the journal Science Advances
and is also a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Ben Cook, from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, also helped to write the paper added that Americans may have to get used to droughts as a way of life
. "These mega-droughts during the 1100s and 1200s persisted for 20, 30, 40, 50 years at a time, and they were droughts that no one in the history of the United States has ever experienced,"
he said in a press release. "The droughts that people do know about like the 1930s 'dustbowl' or the 1950s drought, or even the ongoing drought in California, and the southwest today - these are all naturally occurring droughts
that are expected to last only a few years or perhaps a decade. Imagine instead the current California drought going on for another 20 years," Cook added.