22 years of drought in Colorado, rest of the Southwest is worst stretch in 1,200 years, study shows | CraigDailyPress.com
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22 years of drought in Colorado, rest of the Southwest is worst stretch in 1,200 years, study shows

Chris Outcalt
Colorado Sun

The hot and dry conditions that have gripped the southwestern United States since 2000 account for the driest 22-year period on record stretching back 1,200 years, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

What’s more, this new research finds that although there would have been a drought anyway, climate change made it considerably worse.

Previous research indicated the current drought was the driest stretch since the 1500s. The new study, however, incorporated data from 2021, a particularly dry year, which led the current 22-year period to exceed the intense drought in the 1500s, researchers who studied tree ring data found.



The hotter and drier climate noted by researchers has fueled wildfires, caused problems for farmers and ranchers whose livelihood depends on water for irrigation, and resulted in lower flows on the Colorado River — as well as other rivers and streams — which provides drinking water to more than 36 million people.

“What’s super intriguing is the headline finding that this is the driest 22-year period since at least 800,” Brad Udall, a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Institute, said. “That’s stunning.”



See the full story at coloradosun.org.


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