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Apr 22 / Dave Schumaker

The Future is Drying Up

During a discussion at lunch on climate change, the Colorado River and the impact on water resources in the Southwest, one of my colleagues reminded me of this article published in the NY Times Magazine in October of 2007. It’s a fascinating (and rather grim) look on the future of water resources in the United States.

Climatologists seem to agree that global warming means the earth will, on average, get wetter. According to Richard Seager, a scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory who published a study on the Southwest last spring, more rain and snow will fall in those regions closer to the poles and more precipitation is likely to fall during sporadic, intense storms rather than from smaller, more frequent storms. But many subtropical regions closer to the equator will dry out. The models analyzed by Seager, which focus on regional climate rather than Colorado River flows, show that the Southwest will ultimately be subject to significant atmospheric and weather alterations. More alarming, perhaps, is that the models do not only concern the coming decades; they also address the present. “You know, it’s like, O.K., there’s trouble in the future, but how near in the future does it set in?” he told me. “In this case, it appears that it’s happening right now.” When I asked if the drought in his models would be permanent, he pondered the question for a moment, then replied: “You can’t call it a drought anymore, because it’s going over to a drier climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought.”

I figure this article is apropos, especially because of the recent news of the future of the Colorado River that we posted about last week.

[Via NY Times Magazine]

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