Climate Change May Drain Rivers in Already Parched US Southwest

Photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr/CC BY

Chalk up another study that presents a grim forecast for the American Southwest -- a report from the Interior department reveals that the three rivers that act as 8 states' lifeblood may shed 8-14% of their volume in coming years. It's worth reiterating here that the Southwest is the fastest-growing region in the nation -- more people are still moving in, exacerbating the situation. The AP reports:

the Interior Department said annual flows in three prominent river basins -- the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin -- could decline by as much 8 percent to 14 percent over the next four decades. The three rivers provide water to eight states, from Wyoming to Texas and California, as well as to parts of Mexico ...

The report notes that projected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to alter the timing and quantity of stream flows in all Western river basins, with increased flooding possible in the winter due to early snowmelt and water shortages in the summer due to reductions in spring and summer runoffs. Changes in climate could affect water supplies to a range of users, from farms and cities to hydropower plants, fish, wildlife and recreation, the report said.

Of course, full-on droughts are increasing in frequency as well, and the physicist climate blogger Joe Romm commonly notes that we're witnessing the Dust Bowlification of the US Southwest. Add to the mix the fact that water will soon be scarcer than ever in the region, and pretty much all I can say is this:

Don't move to Phoenix.

More on Water Scarcity and Climate Change in US Southwest
US Southwest May Enter Into Permanent Drought-Like Conditions by Midcentury
Climate Change to Worsen Severe Water Shortages in US Southwest

Tags: Global Climate Change | United States


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