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The worst drought in the past 1200 years hits the United States

The worst drought in the past 1200 years hits the United States 1
The hydroelectric power plant at Lake Oroville was closed when the water level in the lake reached historic lows. / Photo: Frank Schulenberg

The United States and many countries around the world are suffering from the effects of severe drought. Climatologists call it the worst drought in 1,200 years.

While some scientists talk about the potential eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano in the United States, other American experts are calling for attention to another, closer problem – the lack of drinking water. In the east of the country, there is a severe drought; in Washington, there is a restriction on the use of water. However, there is a much more serious problem in the western United States.

Scientists note that climate change makes dry years drier and wetter more humid. Higher temperatures heat the land and air faster, and increased evaporation dries out the soil and reduces the amount of rainfall that fills the water bodies. Warming also reduces the amount of snow needed to replenish rivers, streams, reservoirs and soil moisture in spring and summer.

About 44 percent of the United States is experiencing the effects of drought. The Colorado River, which supplies water to seven states, experienced unprecedented blackouts and shutdowns of hydroelectric power plants.

California has already imposed restrictions on water use, with reports of water theft in the hardest hit areas. Scientists say this American state has not experienced a similar drought for 1,200 years.

Average temperature and humidity in recent years have been typical for the period around 800 AD. BC when California was a desert. It is believed that the region is now returning to its source, and the water situation will become more and more difficult. A real crisis could begin if groundwater disappears.

Similar problems are in other desert states – Arizona and Nevada.

Las Vegas, located in the heart of the desert, will be one of the first to suffer from severe drought. At present, the volume of water in the reservoir is only 38% of the maximum. Therefore, with a high probability, restrictions on the use of fresh water will be introduced in the states of Arizona and Nevada.

Agriculture consumes more than 90 percent of water, so the drought has led to a drop in yields. Some farmers go bankrupt and pastoralists have to sell off some of their herds.

The US government is trying to restore the usual living conditions for local residents; therefore, all the western reservoirs of the country are rapidly drying up. The formerly deep Colorado River is losing water at an unimaginable rate , and many farms depend on it, as well as cities: Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Santa Fe , where a total of 40 million people live.

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Many locals continue to move to the area, which is projected to become even drier in the coming years. The latest IPCC report predicts that climate change will exacerbate droughts in these regions.

All other continents of the world, with the exception of Antarctica, are also experiencing severe drought. The UN has warned that if humankind does nothing to curb climate change, another 130 countries could face drought by 2100.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. This can lead to conflict, political instability and the migration of millions of people.

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