The southwestern United States and Mexico are experiencing the worst drought on record in all of North America in 1,200 years.
The lack of rainfall has been aggravated by climate change, it is explained by a study published on February 14 in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.
«The period between the summer of 2000 and that of 2021 was the driest since at least the year 800 AD. In particular, last year the drought reached an exceptional degree of severity ». The drought episode will probably continue in the course of 2022, the researchers behind the analysis explained.
Precisely due to the exacerbation of the situation in 2021, the twenty-year episode is now considered worse than the one that occurred at the end of the sixteenth century, according to a statement from the UCLA University of Los Angeles, whose scientists have curated the Research. Therefore, to find an equally serious case, it is necessary to go back to 1,200 years ago.
The level of moisture present in the soil is twice lower than that recorded, on average, in all other cases of drought that occurred during the twentieth century, the researchers specified.
The situation is so serious that, even in the event of a return of precipitation, the impacts will still last a long time in the whole area that goes – from north to south – from southern Montana to northern Mexico and – from west and east – from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains.
«This drought is unlikely to be overcome simply by a rainy year», Park Williams, geographer and lead author of the study confirmed. «Without the burden of climate change, the last 22 years would still have been the driest of the last three centuries», Park Williams said at the end. But at least it would not have reached the current peaks.
Global warming, in fact, is multiplying episodes of extreme heat and is disrupting the normal cycle of precipitation, according to research. For this reason, climate change is responsible for 42 percent of the decrease in soil moisture in the area under study.