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Large contribution from anthropogenic warming to emerging megadrought

Climate Adaptation Partnerships Program

CPO RISA investigators John Abatzoglou (Climate Impacts Research Consortium) and Ben Livneh (Western Water Assessment) joined co-authors from Columbia University, NASA Goddard, and CIRES in a study published in Science on the impact of human-caused warming to an emerging megadrought. Using hydrological modeling and tree ring reconstructions of summer soil moisture, the authors found that an otherwise moderate drought in the western United States was made into the most severe drought of the last 500 years and that our warming climate is playing a key role. The co-authors further note that this appears to be just the beginning of a more extreme trend towards severe and persistent megadroughts.

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