Climate change is having a devastating affect on dry areas of the world and began influencing global drought risk for more than a century ago. Models predict that droughts will become more frequent and severe as temperatures rise, potentially causing food and water shortages, human health impacts, destructive wildfires and conflicts between peoples competing for resources. They project a new round of severe megadroughts, resulting in the driest period in 1,000 years for parts of the U.S., with droughts becoming more frequent and severe.

The United States Drought Monitor update their maps every Thursday and Climate Central has an informative page with graphics and videos. 



High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere droughts more likely

Western Central Europe, North America, China, and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere faced water shortages, extreme heat, and soil moisture drought conditions throughout the summer of 2022

Drought in the Western United States

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) categorizes drought in a region according to soil moisture, streamflow, and precipitation levels. Regional designations can vary and are primarily based on historical weather patterns. Drought can adversely affect many…

Images of change

Disappearing Lake Mead, Nevada-Arizona Border

Climate Change in National Parks

Climate Change Response Program Natural Resource Stewardship and Science. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. of glaciers and ice sheets. And of those that remain, most are shrinking at an accelerated rate. These…

Drought in numbers

The report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data, helps inform negotiations of one of several decisions by UNCCD’s 196 member states, to be issued 20 May at the conclusion of COP15.

Western Drought 2020-2022

Climate change is a major contributor to the prolonged and intensifying drought that has impacted the western US since early 2020, as well as the underlying megadrought that has been ongoing since 2000.[1] Rising temperatures…

What the Western US megadrought tells us about climate change

A 22-year megadrought has made the Western United States the driest it has been since at least the year 800, according to a new study. A megadrought is essentially a prolonged drought that lasts for…

Explainer: ‘Desertification’ and the role of climate change

While the term may bring to mind the windswept sand dunes of the Sahara or the vast salt pans of the Kalahari, it’s an issue that reaches far beyond those living in and around the…

National Weather Service – Drought Information

The U.S. Drought monitor is an overview of drought types and drought impacts updated weekly based upon a combination of sources.


Feds Will Spend Billions to Boost Drought-Stricken Colorado River System

By Alex Hager  Photo: Ted Wood, The Water Desk   09/28/22  
Money from the Inflation Reduction Act will fund “short-term conservation” measures including removing water-intensive lawns around cities and improvements to make infrastructure less leaky.

The drying of the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers

By Sueellen Campbell   09/22/22  
National TV, cable, and other mass media outlets have been brimming with news that much of the American West is into its longest drought in 1,200 years. What does this mean for some of the…

For Mormons, a perfect lawn is a godly act. But the drought is catching up with them

By Annette McGivney  Photo: Lindsay D'Addato   09/22/22  
In June 2021, Marlene and Emron Esplin stopped watering their front lawn. Given that the Esplins live in Utah, where maintaining lush green turf is often associated with the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy, the…

Where the Colorado River crisis is hitting home

By Kirk Siegler  Photo: Kirk Siegler, npr   09/22/22  
These days it can feel almost cliche to throw around the word "dystopian." But it's hard not to use it while standing on the narrow road crossing the Hoover Dam as tourists gawk at the…

2022 North American Wildfires

Photo: Monterey County via Twitter   09/21/22  
Typically, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) starts its North American wildfires profile in the summer or even fall. However, as climate change increasingly has a more significant impact, we have been losing the concept…

Map released: September 22, 2022

The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is each Tuesday at 8 a.m. EDT. The maps, which are based on analysis of the data, are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Colorado River 100 Years

By Chris Outcalt And Brittany Peterson   09/13/22  
On the 100-year anniversary of the seven states' initial Colorado River Compact, The Associated Press and partner media outlets in the U.S. West are publishing a series of stories about what's at stake for those…

California Drought Leaving Rice Farmers Dry

By Jesse Newman and Others  Photo: Andri Tambunan   09/10/22  
Rick Richter has spent the past 43 years flying biplanes over California’s Sacramento Valley, dropping rice seeds into vast, flooded fields that churn out grain for consumers across the globe. In a typical year, Mr.…

Spotty fall colors likely in New England amid drought

By Lisa Rathke  Photo: Steven Senne, AP Photo   09/09/22  
This summer’s drought is expected to cause a patchy array of fall color starting earlier in the leaf-peeping haven of New England while the autumn colors are likely to be muted and not last as…

Drifting Toward Disaster: the (Second) Rio Grande – Inside Climate News

By Dylan Baddour  Photo: Dylan Baddour   09/05/22  
This summer, the Rio Grande dried up in places that it never had before. For more than 100 miles through wild and scenic country, its snaking, sandy bed cradled only a series of warm, stagnant…

Lake Mead’s water level has never been lower. Here’s what that means.

By Emily Mae Czachor   09/04/22  
The American West is facing its most severe drought in human history. Research suggests conditions are drier now than they have been for at least 1,200 years, and, compounded by the effects of climate change,…

Mapping this summer’s extreme divide in rain and drought

By Kasha Patel and Tim Meko   09/03/22  
Like an unhinged seesaw, this summer’s rainfall has teetered between too much and too little across the United States. Record-high rainfall in pockets of the country brought unprecedented flooding; meanwhile, other communities yearned for just…

California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

By Alex Fitzpatrick  Photo: Solar AquaGridLLC   09/01/22  
An innovative plan to conserve water by covering aqueducts with solar panels is about to undergo testing in drought-stricken California. Why it matters: Water is becoming more precious by the day in the Golden State…

The Fight Over The Colorado River’s Water Is A Symbol Of The Larger Climate Crisis

By Alejandro De La Garza   08/29/22  
There’s something familiar about the high stakes water use drama playing out in the U.S. Southwest. The mighty Colorado River serves as an economic artery of the region, powering massive hydroelectric dams and supplying water…

Climate Change is Making Wildfires Worse — Here’s How

By Andrew Moore  Photo: Erin Donalson via iStock   08/29/22  
Over the course of nearly three months in 2020, the August Complex Fire, fueled by extreme heat and severe drought conditions, burned more than a million acres across Northern California, destroying hundreds of buildings and…

Historic drought reveals dinosaur tracks in Texas riverbed

Volunteers were able to map the imprints of new dinosaur tracks revealed by a historic drought at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.

As Colorado River Dries, the U.S. Teeters on the Brink of Larger Water Crisis

By Abrahm Lustgarten  Photo: George Rose/Getty Images   08/25/22  
The western United States is, famously, in the grips of its worst megadrought in a millennium. The Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million Americans and supports food production for the rest…

Record rain is hitting drought-stricken areas. That’s not good news.

By Matthew Cappucci and Others  Photo: Emil Lippe, The Washington Post   08/25/22  
On Monday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area awoke to disaster. Rain was pouring down at the rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Highways became lethal lagoons, brooks became basins, and thousands of people…

Most of the U.S. Is Being Pummeled by Drought

By Artem Golub and Others   08/23/22  
This place is dustier than your ex-boyfriend who didn’t have a job.

Five 1,000-year rain events have struck the U.S. in five weeks. Why?

By Matthew Cappucci  Photo: The Washington Post   08/23/22  
Five weeks. Five instances of 1,000-year rain events. If it seems like the weather across the Lower 48 as of late has been bonkers, you’re not imagining things. It’s been a maelstrom of weather extremes,…

‘Severe’ drought designation expanded in NY and parts of northern NJ

By Gwynne Hogan   08/18/22  
Severe drought conditions in New York and New Jersey persist this week and have expanded into parts of the South Shore of Long Island, Dutchess and Putnam counties, and northern New Jersey, according to the…

The Colorado River drought is so bad you can see it from space

By Umair Irfan  Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Imagesnone   08/17/22  
More water cuts are coming as the nation’s largest reservoirs continue to dry up in the worst drought in 1,200 years.

Rio Grande Runs Dry, Then Wet

In the last week of July 2022, a 5-mile stretch of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ran dry for the first time in 40 years. Farther downstream, 12 miles of the river near…

A New Round of Colorado River Cuts Is Announced

By Henry Fountain  Photo: caitlin Ochs, Reuters   08/16/22  
With water levels in the Colorado River near their lowest point ever, Arizona and Nevada on Tuesday faced new restrictions on the amount of water they can pump out of the river, the most important…

U.S. announces more water cuts as Colorado River hits dire lows

By Joshua Partlow and Others  Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images   08/16/22  
As the historic drought in the U.S. Southwest pushes the nation’s largest reservoirs to record lows, the Biden administration Tuesday announced that water shortages along the Colorado River had passed a threshold for the first…

Today’s Headlines: Negotiations have yet to produce a deal for the shrinking Colorado River

By Elvia Limon  Photo: Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times   08/14/22  
Two months ago, federal officials told seven states that depend on Colorado River water to prepare for emergency cuts next year to prevent reservoirs from dropping to dangerously low levels. The states and managers of…

With California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Newsom calls for urgent action

By Ian James   08/11/22  
With California enduring historic drought amplified by global warming, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a new plan to adapt to the state’s hotter, drier future by capturing and storing more water, recycling more wastewater…

As Drought Hits Farms, Investors Lay Claim to Colorado Water

By Jennifer Oldham  Photo: Sarah Gilman   08/10/22  
Michael Jones ducked under an idle sprinkler and strode across the sandy soil where he planned to plant drought-resistant crops, hoping to save water amid the driest period in more than 1,200 years. For the…

State refuses request for more water in communities with high wildfire risk

By Alex Wigglesworth  Photo: Kent Nishimura, Los Angeles Times   08/09/22  
State officials have denied a request by Southern California municipal water districts for more water to mitigate wildfire risk. The agencies had worked with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to ask the California…

Due to climate change, Nevada says goodbye to grass

By John D'Amelio  Photo: CBS News   08/07/22  
In Las Vegas, Nevada, it's come to this: climate change has helped make water ever more scarce, so under a new Nevada law, the grass has got to go. "When we look at outdoor water…

Saltwater toilets, desperate wildlife: Water-starved Catalina Island battles against drought

By Hayley Smith  Photo: Francine Orr   08/05/22  
Island-dweller Lori Snell grimaced as she tallied her bill recently at the Avalon Laundry — nearly $50 for three large loads. “It’s always an adventure to live in Catalina,” said Snell, 64. “It’s a joy,…

These NASA images show the staggering impact of drought

By Victoria Masterson   08/02/22  
Images from space show water levels falling dramatically at Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the United States.

See How Far Water Levels in Lake Mead Have Fallen

By Winston Choi-Schagrin  Photo: David Becker, Reuters   07/22/22  
In 2000, Lake Mead was full of deep, midnight-blue water that flooded the banks of the rivers that fed it. But 20 years later, it has shrunken drastically. And its basins are lighter, too, almost…

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying out, threatening ecological, economic disaster

By Nathan Frandino  Photo: Nathan Frandino   07/14/22  
Utah's Great Salt Lake dropped to its lowest recorded level this month amid a two-decade drought, a grim milestone as researchers and politicians point to grave threats to wildlife and people along its receding shores.

Shocking Photos Show Lake Mead’s Historically Low Water Levels

By Molly Taft  Photo: John Locher , AP   07/12/22  
Stranded boats, desiccated fish, and no water on cracked ground that once made a shoreline. That’s the new business-as-usual for Lake Mead, where the West’s punishing drought and chronic water overuse have combined to render…

June 2022: U.S. dominated by remarkable heat, dryness

Photo: NOAA National Weather Service-Cleveland/Neil Fischer   07/11/22  
June kicked off a very warm and dry start to meteorological summer for the U.S., according to experts from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

California deepens water cuts to cope with drought, hitting thousands of farms

By Ian James and Others  Photo: Allen J. Schaben, The Los Angeles Times   07/07/22  
California regulators have begun curtailing the water rights of many farms and irrigation districts along the Sacramento River, forcing growers to stop diverting water from the river and its tributaries.

What aridification, the ‘great drying,’ means to California and the West

By James Rainey  Photo: Ethan Swope   06/30/22  
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, June 30. I’m state enterprise reporter Jim Rainey, checking in from the San Gabriel Valley.

Extreme heat and humidity kill thousands of cattle in Kansas

By Amy Cheng  Photo: Christopher Smith , Washington Post   06/16/22  
Thousands of cattle in Kansas have died in recent days due to high heat and humidity, dealing a blow to one of the country’s leading cattle production states as the industry grapples with extreme weather…

These maps illustrate the seriousness of the western drought

By Kasha Patel and Lauren Tierney   06/16/22  
Much of the West is already experiencing severe to exceptional drought, but scorching summer temperatures will dry out the parched landscape even more...

A Wild, Windy Spring Is Creating a Soil Erosion Nightmare for Farmers

By Virginia Gewin  Photo: Kurt Stiefvater   06/08/22  
When he saw a roiling thunder bank of black clouds blowing into Salem, South Dakota, last month, farmer Kurt Stiefvater thought it would take 20 minutes to reach his property. It took five. “I couldn’t…

As the Great Salt Lake dries up, Utah faces an ‘environmental nuclear bomb’

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Bryan Tarnowski   06/07/22  
Climate change and rapid population growth are shrinking the lake, creating a bowl of toxic dust that could poison the air around Salt Lake City.

A Day Without Rain Is Like 22 Years In America’s Southwest

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Raychel Sanner   06/04/22  
The Southwest is melting down. Between the heat and lack of moisture, it’s become an inferno. This year is already worse than last year, which was a catastrophe. So should we call this catastrophe-plus?

Drought-stricken US warned of looming ‘dead pool’

By Regan Morris & Sophie Long   06/04/22  
Sitting on the Arizona-Nevada border near Las Vegas, Lake Mead - formed by the creation of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River - is the largest reservoir in the United States and provides water…

Colorado River: Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest”

Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland…

Megadrought causes perilously low water levels at Lake Mead

The megadrought currently choking the western United States is the worst drought in the region in more than 1,000 years. It's having an enormous impact across many states and on several major reservoirs including Lake…

California’s Drought Is So Bad, It’s Going to Slash Hydropower

By Angely Mercado  Photo: Mario Tama , Getty Images   06/03/22  
There are already signs of a difficult summer to come. Outlooks from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that hydropower would make up only 8% of the state’s total power generation, down from 15%, if…

The Vanishing Rio Grande: Warming Takes a Toll on a Legendary River

By Jim Robbins  Photo: Ted Woods   06/02/22  
Hiking through the emerald green canopy of the bosque, or riverside cottonwood forest, near downtown Albuquerque, Tricia Snyder, an advocate for WildEarth Guardians, believes zero hour has arrived for the Rio Grande. Though the river…

A ‘Perfect Recipe for Extreme Wildfire’: New Mexico’s Record-Breaking, Early Fire Season

By Tim Wallace and Nadja Popovich  Photo: Jim Weber via Associated Press   06/01/22  
Fueled by abnormally dry, warm conditions and spread by strong winds, wildfires have burned more than 600,000 acres across New Mexico this spring — making it one of the worst fire years in the state’s…

Las Vegas to save 10 billion gallons of water with new plan amid megadrought

Millions of people in southern California are facing new water restrictions thanks to a megadrought crippling the Southwest. But southern Nevada has been conserving water for years. The area’s latest move is to tear out…