It's here - to stay. Let's call it "megadrought." And what the States is getting now could be considered, "the wet end of a drier hydroclimate period." From the oh-so corporatist Globe & Mail.
Anyone who weathered the stubborn dry spell that enveloped western North America from 2000 to 2004 knows it was harsh, but now a group of researchers has concluded it was the most severe drought in 800 years – bone-dry conditions that the scientists believe could become the “new norm” in this vital agricultural region.
“Projections indicate that drought events of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the 21st century,” the group of 10 scientists from several American universities and the University of British Columbia wrote in a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
If so, a “megadrought” that severely cuts crop production could be on the horizon, the scientists warn. Many farmers now in the throes of an extreme drought in the U.S. Midwest that is devastating corn and soybean crops and threatening to send food prices soaring might concur, although it’s not yet clear whether this dry spell is part of the broader trend, noted Beverly Law, a professor of global change biology at Oregon State University and a co-author of the study.
But climate change and megadrought are just part of the agricultural story. There is also the one mighty Ogallala aquifer that underlies eight states of America's bread basket. It has been the key to irrigation of crops, particularly water-intensive corn, for decades. But it's drying up, pumped out. With drought sweeping the region and the vital Ogallala nearly drained out, bountiful agriculture of the Great Plains is coming to an end. This too is the new normal.