Using sophisticated climate models, scientists are predicting a 15 percent loss of surface moisture by 2050. They suspect, but cannot conclude, that global warming is to blame.
"The research suggests that the transformation may already be underway. Much of the region has been in a severe drought since 2000, which the study's analysis of computer climate models shows as the beginning of a long dry period."
"The study, published online in the journal Science, predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest - one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation."
"The researchers tested a 'middle of the road' scenario of future carbon dioxide emissions to predict rainfall and evaporation. They assumed that emissions would rise until 2050 and then decline. The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere would be 720 parts per million in 2100, compared with about 380 parts per million today."
"For the U.S., the biggest problem would be water shortages. The seven Colorado River Basin states - Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California - would battle each other for diminished river flows."
"Mexico, which has a share of the Colorado River under a 1944 treaty and has complained of U.S. diversions in the past, would join the struggle."
Thanks to D. A. Varnado, AICP