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NASA: Megadrought Lasting Decades Is 99% Certain in American Southwest

October 16, 2016

By Paul Homewood


h/t Paul2




The latest piece of junk science, from Eco-Watch:


A study released in Science Advances Wednesday finds strong evidence for severe, long-term droughts afflicting the American Southwest, driven by climate change. A megadrought lasting decades is 99 percent certain to hit the region this century, said scientists from Cornell University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

"Historically, megadroughts were extremely rare phenomena occurring only once or twice per millennium," the report states. "According to our analysis of modeled responses to increased GHGs, these events could become commonplace if climate change goes unabated."

Rising temperatures will combine with decreased rainfall in the Southwest to create droughts that will be worse than the historic "Dust Bowl" of the 20th century and last far longer.



Meanwhile back in the real world:




Long term precipitation trends are currently close to average, and drought in recent years has been no worse than previous episodes in the 20thC.


In fact, as the researchers ought to know, the 20thC has been unusually wet in the longer view of things in the American West. Droughts may get worse in the coming century, but it will have nothing to do with SUVs.





To be fair, the article does go on to address the real problem:


Much of the Southwest relies on the Colorado River and its tributaries for some or all of its water. Beginning as a trickle seeping out of the ground above 10,000 feet, just west of the Continental Divide, the Colorado feeds critical farmland, public water supplies and helps generate hydroelectric power. Thirty to 40 million people rely on Colorado River water.

Historically, the Colorado emptied into the Gulf of California. Today, what little remains of the Colorado River when it reaches Mexico has been diverted to irrigate the farms of Mexicali Valley. The rest of the river exists mostly as a dry memory.

"The Colorado River is one of the most dammed and diverted rivers on the planet," said Gary Wockner, executive director of Save The Colorado, in an interview with EcoWatch. "In fact, every drop of its water, over 5 trillion gallons of water per year, is diverted out and the river no longer meets the Gulf of California."

The Colorado River supplies 55 to 65 percent of water for Southern California. ProPublica reported last year that more people are entitled to Colorado River water than the river can supply—or has supplied, on average, for the past 110 years.

"Much of the water is lost, overused or wasted, stressing both the Colorado system, and trickling down to California, which depends on the Colorado for a big chunk of its own supply," ProPublica reported.


California and the Southwest rely on the Colorado River for much of their water supply.

  1. Swisspeasant permalink
    October 16, 2016 11:56 am

    “According to our analysis of modeled responses” something is going to happen long after I have pocketed the money and retired.

    Can’t go wrong really can he?

    • Shooter permalink
      October 18, 2016 12:54 am

      Absolutely not! If the model says so, it means more models have to be done, which means more money!

  2. Broadlands permalink
    October 16, 2016 1:10 pm

    What are “we” supposed to do, realistically, about this impending disaster? Like other aspects of “climate change” the solution is….??? (1) Blame others? “Denialists”? (2) Offer absurd plans that ignore the growth in the number of people involved?

  3. RAH permalink
    October 16, 2016 1:14 pm

    Southern California’s biggest problem is just plain too many people for that arid and desert land to support. Eventually desalination will be their only alternative other than extensive depopulation. BTW they have to let at least some of the water flow through the Colorado periodically just to flush the stuff out of the Grand Canyon in order to keep it navigable for tourism and for providing for species endangered by the greatly decreased water flow.

    • Karen Walker permalink
      October 16, 2016 1:50 pm

      California opened its first desalinatiion plant a year ago in Carlsbad. Media doesn’t like to pay much attention to it because of the econut backlash. There is a motion that will be put on the ballot soon to divert the 70 billion dedicated to the “high speed rail” to desalination plants. At the cost of 1 billion/plant they could, in short order, have 70 plants operating – which would pretty well take care of their water problems.

      • ColA permalink
        October 17, 2016 12:00 am

        Hey Karen,
        We have lots of 2nd hand desal plants here in Australia, in great order, commissioned but NEVER used, they are costing us millions to keep mothballed, all ya need to do is wait for the Libs to get elected to the State and wait for the fire sale, wait for the Lab/green to get elected next, they’ll build a new one, and so on – an endless supply of cheep plants – don’t ya love it when a plan comes together!!

    • RAH permalink
      October 17, 2016 9:57 am


      The Libs have been and are in control of CA. Even a large proportion of the Republican minority in their legislature are liberal. Many of us Conservatives that live in “fly over country” (the Midwest and plains states) call it “The land of fruits and nuts” or “The left coast” in the political sense.

  4. Mike Jackson permalink
    October 16, 2016 1:50 pm

    If past experience is anything to go by this piece of prophecy should encourage a lot of dam building and a general move to higher ground.

    The point has been made before with regard to both California and Australia. Essentially both places are deserts. “Droughts” are what you have in deserts only since lack of rain is the normal climate in those condtions the word “desert” itself is usually enough for most people.

    Sometimes weather conditions lend themselves to rainfall which can be excessive and cause things called “floods”. Sensible people either avoid living in deserts or take some form of action to make them habitable by finding ways to store the water from these floods. (Or they keep on the move using camels as transport.)

    Forecasting the future, especially when applied to weather and engaged in by organisations whose primary remit is to investigate space where weather (as we know it on earth) does not exist, is a known hazardous occupation and invariably ends in embarrassment for the forecaster. The prefix “mega-” when attached to any prediction of doom virtually guarantees a liberal application of egg on face within a short period of time.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    October 16, 2016 3:39 pm

    The newspapers reported on the droughts in the 1930s. In 1939 they commented:

    “Conditions were described as good in the Midwest, which suffered severely from the 1934 and 1936 droughts. The Weather Bureau reported that in the Mississippi and Ohio Valley states — which produce the bulk of the nation’s corn, feed crops and meat supplies, conditions have been quite satisfactory. Prospects point to another bumper corn crop.”

    “The Weather Bureau has no explanation for the persistency of dry weather in the southwestern plains or its occurrence in the Northeast, where droughts are uncommon.”
    ‘Droughts’ said Mr. Kincer, ‘are weather incidents that just happen’.

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