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Chance of ‘megadrought’ in U.S. Southwest now 50%, study concludes

VERONICA ROCHA

Los Angeles Times

August 29, 2014 | 11:31 AM

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The chance of a “megadrought” gripping the Southwest for more than 30 years has increased to 50%, scientists say, which means bad news for California’s already parched landscape.

The odds of a 10-year drought afflicting the southwestern U.S. have increased to 80%, according to a new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Whatever happens, California is likely to see prolonged drought and drier conditions, especially in the southern portion of the state, said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the study, which will be published next month in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.

The current drought, he said, is a preview of what will “happen in the future in climate change.”

“I am not trying to say this is imminent,” he said, “but the risk is high.”

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