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Colorado River has lost 10tn gallons of water since 2000 due to climate crisis

By illuminem briefings ๐ŸŒŽ

Jul 28 2023 ยท 1 min read

Illuminem Voices
Environmental Sustainabilityย ยทย Natureย ยทย Water

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๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ Driving the news: According to a recent study, the climate crisis has resulted in the Colorado River basin, a system supporting 40 million people in the western US, losing more than 10 trillion gallons of water in the past two decades
• This volume is equivalent to the entire storage capacity of Lake Mead, the US's largest reservoir

๐Ÿ”ญ The context: The Colorado River, critical for providing water supplies across the US west, sustaining ecosystems, and irrigating farmland, has experienced significant depletion since 2000 due to a climate change-exacerbated "megadrought"
• The situation has prompted the first-ever federally declared water shortage, leading to an urgent agreement in May to reduce water use among states

๐ŸŒŽ Why does it matter for the planet: This dramatic water loss in the Colorado River basin is a stark indicator of the ongoing impact of climate change
• The basin is a crucial water resource for cities, agriculture, and wildlife and is currently facing the region's worst drought in over 1,200 years

โญ๏ธ What's next: While recent rainfalls and snowfalls have provided temporary relief, the long-term prognosis requires structural changes to sustain the river, which has always been over-allocated and now faces a shrinking supply due to the climate crisis

๐Ÿ’ฌ One quote: "The fact that warming removed as much water from the basin as the size of Lake Mead itself during the recent megadrought is a wakeup call to the climate change impacts we are living today" (Benjamin Bass, lead author of the study and a hydrological modeler at UCLA)

๐Ÿ“ˆ One stat: The research found that the average temperature in the basin has increased by 1.5°C (2.7°F) since 1880, leading to a 10.3% reduction in water runoff. This has resulted in a loss of 10 trillion gallons (or about 40 trillion liters) of water from the Colorado River system since 2000

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