American Southwest May Face 60-Year Drought, Researchers Say

December 14, 2010

(ChattahBox U.S. News)—If the past is any indication of how the climate will look in the future, the American Southwest could be facing a 60-year span of drought and heat unprecedented since the mid-twelfth century, a new study indicates. Researchers at the University of Arizona reviewed temperature ranges and waterfall over the past 1,200 years to predict future climate models and discovered that high temperatures were often a predictor of long dry spells, AFP reports.

The researchers found that a six decade long heat and dry spell affected most of the western U.S. and northern Mexico in the 12th century, during which Colorado River was 15 percent lower than normal. Recent calculations show that the same river is currently at its lowest point since 1906, AFP notes.

“We’re not saying future droughts will be worse than what we see in the paleo record, but we are saying they could be as bad,” said lead study author Connie Woodhouse. In fact, Woodhouse added, the Southwest could face “a Medieval-style drought with even warmer temperatures,” AFP reports.


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