According to the report, the drought caused roughly $11.4–$23 billion in economic losses in 2020—including impacts from associated wildfires. Economic losses for 2021 will also be substantial, and the drought is expected to continue at least into next year.
For the past two decades, the southwestern United States has been desiccated by one of the most severe long-term droughts—or ‘megadroughts’—of the last 1,200 years. And now, scientists say the risk of similar extreme megadroughts and severe single-year droughts will increase in the future as Earth’s temperature continues to rise, according to a new study in Earth’s Future.
“There has always been natural variability in drought events around the world, but our research shows the clear human influence on drying, specifically from anthropogenic aerosols, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases,” said lead author Felicia Chiang from the University of California, Irvine.
The Drought Task Force’s rapid response will help us understand the ongoing drought’s causes, how our science is helping us understand the drought, to what extent climate change is playing a role, and how the event may evolve.
Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.
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