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Tracking drought in the Southwest

A NASA satellite image of the desert Southwest.

Current dry spell matches some of the most severe conditions on record

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With Colorado River flows at Lees Ferry during the past 10 years registering  the lowest levels ever in the historic record, University of Arizona researchers say the Southwest could already be in the midst of a major dry spell comparable to the 12th century drought that drove the Anasazi from the Four Corners region.

Their conclusion is based on a review of previous studies that document the region’s past temperatures and droughts.

“Major 20th century droughts pale in comparison to droughts documented in paleoclimatic records over the past two millennia,” the researchers wrote.

By figuring out when and for how long drought and warm temperatures coincided in the past, the team identified plausible worst-case scenarios for the future. Such scenarios can help water and other resource managers plan for the future, the team wrote. Continue reading

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