There is an 80% possibility of a ‘mega drought’ event in the south-west and Central Plains of America within the next 1,000 years, US scientists are predicting.
The study states that climate change will be the main cause of such a prolonged drought event.
“Future droughts will occur in a significantly warmer world with higher temperatures than recent historical events, conditions that are likely to be a major added stress on both natural ecosystems and agriculture,” the study states.
Should temperatures remain increasing in their current directions, agricultural production in the Central Plains and south-west regions could deteriorate rapidly, the study says.
The research was carried out by using the North American Drought Atlas (NADA), a tree ring based research method that reconstructs summer seasons.
The risk of prolonged drought periods was calculated for two periods, from 1950-2000 and 2050-2099.
The study found that for the period 1950-2000 the risk of such a ‘megadrought’ was less than 12% for both the Central Plains and the south-west.
The scientists then found that for the period 2050-2099 there is an 80% chance of a ‘megadrought’ in both regions.
The research was recently published in Science Advances by scientists from NASA, Cornell University and Columbia University.