Carpe Diem West’s Dr. Doug Kenney and his colleagues Colorado River Research Group (CRRG) have just published a new report: “When is Drought not a Drought? Drought, Ardification and the New Normal”.
Drought is not the core problem, and waiting for a return to “normal” precipitation is not the lasting solution. Increasing temperatures are shifting the basin toward increasing and likely permanent aridity. Water management must shift to cope with these new conditions and managers should join and push efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions in order to avoid an even drier future.
The Colorado River Research Group felt compelled to issue this paper now before the runoff season begins which, barring some massive spring storms, is likely to be very disappointing to water managers throughout the region. The temptation will be to describe the problem as “drought,” but that is only part of the story. Droughts end, you just have to tighten your belt and wait it out. But the regional warming trend, and its negative impact on runoff, is not a temporary condition. We simply cannot hunker down and wait for normal conditions to return. They won’t. The sooner we confront this reality, the better. It is aridification, not drought, that we need to be talking about.
Our congratulations to the Research Group on their publication of another thoughtful and solution-focused report.
March 9, 2018