Tuesday May 7, 2024


Good news on the Colorado River is rare. Its reservoirs, the two largest in the country, have shrunk to record lows. The policymakers who will decide its future are stuck at an impasse. Climate change has driven more than two decades of megadrought and strained the water supply for 40 million people across the Southwest.

But a new study is delivering a potential dose of optimism for the next 25 years of the Colorado River. The findings, published in the Journal of Climate, forecast a 70% chance the next quarter century will be wetter than the last.

Projections for Colorado River water supply have largely focused on the impact of temperature. Climate change means the region is getting hotter, which in turn drives a raft of environmental factors that mean less water ends up in rivers and reservoirs. For example, snow melts quicker and is more likely to evaporate. Dry, thirsty soil soaks up snow melt before it has a chance to flow into the nearest stream.

This new study, though, takes a closer look at the impact of precipitation.

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