Study: California and the West may be in a rare ‘megadrought,’ researchers say

Napa Valley Register discusses how California and the West may be in a rare ‘megadrought,’ researchers say.

The American West – California included – may be in one of the most severe droughts in the region’s history.

In fact, this drought is so severe that it may constitute a “megadrought,” according to a new study from a group of scientists published last month in the acclaimed journal Science. The last time the region recorded rainfall at as low a level as it has in the 18-year stretch between 2000 and 2018 was the 1500s, researchers say; before that, it was 800 C.E.

Researchers used models and “new 1,200-year tree ring reconstructions” to track historical levels of rainfall. Projections have long pointed toward climate change impacting drought in the future, according to Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City who contributed to the study, but researchers began to wonder if the changes implied by those projections might have already begun manifesting in the West.

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