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Worst drought in a millennium predicted for central and southwest U.S.

Regions will become drier than any previous time on record, study says

2:39pm, February 12, 2015
California reservoir

DRYING UP  By the end of the century, drought conditions in the Southwest and Central Plains of the United States could be unprecedented. It’s already pretty bad in places like California, where water levels are dropping in reservoirs like this one

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Record-setting droughts are in the forecast for the central and southwestern United States, a new study comparing past and predicted drought conditions shows.

Researchers from New York compared drought predictions for the second half of the 21st century with reconstructions of drought conditions dating back to the 11th century and found that the Central Plains and Southwest U.S. could experience the driest conditions in nearly a millennium. The results were published February 12 in Science Advances, the new open-access journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and presented at the AAAS annual meeting.

“These droughts at the end of 21st century are going to be unlike anything in our modern experience,” says study coauthor Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. “It’s

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