Figure : severe-drought-reduces-water-supplies-in-the-southwest

Severe Drought Reduces Water Supplies in the Southwest

Figure 25.3

North Carolina State University, University of Colorado Boulder Western Water Assessment, U.S. National Park Service
Patrick Gonzalez, Laura Stevens, Bradley H. Udall

This figure appears in chapter 25 of the Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II report.

Since 2000, drought that was intensified by long-term trends of higher temperatures due to climate change has reduced the flow in the Colorado River (top left), which in turn has reduced the combined contents of Lakes Powell and Mead to the lowest level since both lakes were first filled (top right). In the Upper Colorado River Basin that feeds the reservoirs, temperatures have increased (bottom left), which increases plant water use and evaporation, reducing lake inflows and contents. Although annual precipitation (bottom right) has been variable without a long-term trend, there has been a recent decline in precipitation that exacerbates the drought. Combined with increased Lower Basin water consumption that began in the 1990s, these trends explain the recently reduced reservoir contents. Straight lines indicate trends for temperature, precipitation, and river flow. The trends for temperature and river flow are statistically significant. Sources: Colorado State University and CICS-NC. Temperature and precipitation data from: PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University,, accessed 20 June 2018.

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This figure was created on March 28, 2018.

This figure was submitted on December 03, 2018.

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