Climate Change Fuels Worst Drought in 1,200 Years

Feb 16, 2022

The worst drought in at least 12 centuries in the Southwest US, driven by climate change, has left the region really dry. That's according to a new study. The drought began in 2000. It has fueled wildfires, devastated farmland, and reduced water supplies. 

The study reported that the drought has gotten a lot worse in the past two years. Climate change, the study predicted, makes it likely that the drought will continue over the next 20 years.

Researchers blamed fossil fuels as the main culprit for the “megadrought.” They spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That heats the Earth. Higher temperatures, especially over the past few years, have baked the Southwest, the researchers said.

Human-caused climate change accounts for 42% of the extended drought since the 21st century began, the study found. It said this century has been much drier and hotter than the previous 500 years. Climate change has brought record-high temperatures.

“Without climate change, this would not be even close to as bad as one of those historical megadroughts,” the study’s lead author said.

Researchers looked at tree rings. That’s a modern way of measuring droughts. The measurements determined this is the worst one since the year 800. Droughts had first been monitored then. 

Photo from Reuters.

Based on information in the story, this is the worst drought to hit the Southwest US _______. (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. in a century
b. for 800 years
c. since the year 800
d. since the year 2000
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