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The new threat: Megadroughts

Times of India, New Delhi, September 16, 2014


Climate change is set to un leash a series of decades-long "megadroughts" this century , according to research to be published this week. Megadroughts - which are generally defined as lasting 35 years or more - will become considerably more frequent as global warming increases temperatures and reduces rainfall in regions already susceptible, warns Cornell University's Toby Ault, the author of the report. "Without climate change there would be a 5-15% risk of a megadrought in the south-west of the US this century.


With it, the probability jumps to between 20% and 50%," Ault said. "The south-west of the US, southern Europe, much of Africa, India, Australia and much of Central and South America could all have a drought that lasts decades," said Jonathan T Overpeck, an environmental scientist at the University of Arizona. Megadroughts have occurred periodically around the world in the past few thousand years. In some cases, they have caused civilizations to collapse.