A new study conducted by researchers from The University of New Mexico has found that wildfires—which have been increasing in frequency, severity and extent around the globe—are one of the largest drivers of aquatic impairment in the western United States, threatening our water supply. The research, “Wildfires increasingly impact western U.S. fluvial networks,” was published recently in Nature Communications.
Extreme drought across the Western U.S. has become as reliable as a summer afternoon thunderstorm in Florida. And news headlines about drought in the West can seem a bit like a broken record, with some scientists saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a— the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused .
The Western drought has continued to expand and intensify, according to U.S. Drought Monitor data released Thursday.
Wet late-spring weather resulted in a slight decrease in the area deemed to be in extreme drought in Northern California.
Severe drought receded a little in parts of northeastern Utah and southwestern Washington. Unseasonably heavy precipitation, including high-elevation snow, fell in northeastern Utah, the Drought Monitor reported
The vintage train was chugchugchugging its usual route out of Durango that sunny morning as tourists marveled at the postcard-pretty canyon. Just a few miles closer to Silverton, a plume of smoke started rising from the steep hillside.
Within minutes, a Good Samaritan tried to douse the flames, state and federal court documents say. Three separate efforts by the scenic railroad company—including one involving a helicopter—tried to put out the flames, too. But the fire burned out of control within minutes. By the time wildland firefighters finally extinguished the fire six months later, 54,000 acres, an area larger than the nearby Mesa Verde National Park, had been charred and recorded as Colorado’s sixth worst wildfire.
A two-decade-long dry spell that has parched much of the western United States is turning into one of the deepest megadroughts in the region in more than 1,200 years, a new study found.
And about half of this historic drought can be blamed on man-made global warming, according to a study in Thursday’s journal Science.
Scientists looked at a nine-state area from Oregon and Wyoming down through California and New Mexico, plus a sliver of southwestern Montana and parts of northern Mexico. They used thousands of tree rings to compare a drought that started in 2000 and is still going — despite a wet 2019 — to four past megadroughts since the year 800.
The mighty Rio Grande is looking less mighty as U.S. forecasters predict spring flows will be less than half of average — or worse — and that signals potential trouble for the already stressed waterway.