Megadrought Risk: Water Loss In Colorado River Could Affect Millions Of Americans

First Posted: Feb 25, 2017 03:03 AM EST

Colorado River is on the verge of losing water due to global warming ever since. With this, the residents of the Southwest numbering about 41 million in the U.S. will experience drought.

A new study indicates that by mid-century, the water levels in Colorado River will drop by 5 million acre-feet. The study was led by researchers from Colorado State University and the University of Arizona. The team discovered that the river's flow between 2000 and 2014 was about 19 percent lower than the average from 1906 to 1999, which is the equivalent to the amount of water used by 2 million people for more than a year, according to The Independent.

The Colorado River supplies water for more than 40 million people in seven U.S. states and more in Mexico. With the shrinking of the Colorado River, the drinking water and the water supply for 6 million acres of farmland will be affected.

Bradley Udall, one of the lead authors of the study from Colorado State University, said that the future of Colorado River is far less rosy than other recent assessments have portrayed. He further said that current planning understates the challenge that climate change poses to water supplies in the American Southwest. He urged the water managers to plan for significantly lower river flows.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Overpeck, a geoscience and hydrology professor at ASU, explained that warming alone could cause the Colorado River flow declines of 30 percent by mid-century and over 50 percent by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emission continues to be unabated. He further explained that warming temperatures are playing a role in reducing the flows of the Colorado River.

The Colorado River Basin has been experiencing drought since 2000. In the previous research, it indicates that there will be a greater risk of megadrought on the said areas as the temperatures rise. This is confirmed in the new study that suggests that Colorado River flows will continue to decline, according to RT.

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