The “megadrought” gripping the southwestern US has driven water levels at the two largest reservoirs to record lows, forcing unprecedented government intervention to protect water and power supplies across seven states.
Millions of Americans already contending with critical water shortages now face the prospect of black outs as energy demand grows during heatwaves just as hydroelectric power supply is strained. A US power regulator this week warned that a big swath of the US was at risk of blackouts, partly as a result of drought conditions curtailing hydroelectric supplies.
Jason Smerdon, a Columbia University climate scientist, described “scary” drought conditions in the south-west states.
“All emissions scenarios suggest increased warming in the south-west and therefore increased drying,” he said. Although the drought could partly be accounted for by natural variability in precipitation patterns, he explained, it was worsened by a long-term trend of aridity caused by human activity.