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. 


Drought That Snarled Panama Canal Was Linked to El Niño, Study Finds

By Raymond Zhong 05/01/24
The recent drought in the Panama Canal was driven not by global warming but by below-normal rainfall linked to the natural climate cycle El Niño, an international team of scientists has concluded. Low reservoir levels…
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Droughts, complicated by climate change, result in US beef herd hitting historic low

By John McCracken 03/13/24
Thirty years ago, the weather on Annie Doerr’s family ranch felt reliable. Now that she’s taken over from her parents, it’s been anything but. In recent years, drought has made finding good pastureland for beef…
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Another hot, dry summer may push parts of Texas to the brink

By Dylan Baddour 01/22/24
Two consecutive summers of brutal heat and drought have left some parts of Texas with notably low water supplies going into 2024. A wet year or a well-placed hurricane could quickly pull these regions back…
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Is The Megadrought Over Or Just On Hiatus?

By Arthur Keith 12/27/23
I’ve written about the megadrought in the Southwest for three years. Hydrology is a subject I never thought I’d become enthralled with. Yet here we are, 24 articles later.
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Climate change is hastening the demise of Pacific Northwest forests

By Nathan Gilles 11/16/23
Its foliage, normally soft and green, is tough and brown or missing altogether. Nonetheless, the tree’s reddish bark, swooping branches and thick, conical base identify it as the Pacific Northwest’s iconic western red cedar.
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Oregon Cascades, Western states losing glaciers, new analysis finds

By Alex Baumhardt 10/29/23
Across the contiguous Western U.S., glaciers are slowly disappearing, according to a new analysis by researchers at Portland State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. The study was published in the journal Earth System Science…
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A salty problem for people near the mouth of the Mississippi is a wakeup call for New Orleans

By Kevin MCGill and Stephen Smith 10/27/23
The heating element removed from Monique Plaisance’s water heater in September was disintegrating, streaked with rust and covered in a dry crust. She blamed the corrosion on the water piped in from the area’s longtime…
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As Drought Grips the Southwest, Water Utilities Find the Hunt For More Workers Challenging

By Wyatt Myskow 10/17/23
As the general manager of the Hopi Utilities Corporation’s water service, he works with just two other staff members to provide clean and safe drinking water to the Hopi Tribe’s reservation in Northeast Arizona. When…
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A saltwater wedge climbing the Mississippi River threatens drinking water

By Brady Dennis 09/22/23
For six generations, Ricky Becnel’s family has run the massive tree nursery on the banks of the Mississippi River near Belle Chasse, La. Its 20 acres and half a million trees, most of them citrus,…
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What You Need to Know About Climate Change and Drought

Water deficits are fast becoming the new normal. Over the last half century, extreme “dry rainfall shocks” – i.e., below-average rainfall -- have increased 233% in certain regions.
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Drought affecting Panama Canal threatens 40% of world’s cargo ship traffic

By Ben Tracy and Analisa Novak 08/23/23
A severe drought is threatening shipping on the vital Panama Canal, which is responsible for moving 40% of the world's cargo ship traffic. About two-thirds of the canal's traffic is either headed for — or…
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Drought, deluge and the climate curious farmers of central Illinois

By Zachary Nauth 07/19/23
Drought, killer dust storms, torrential downpours, flooding and extreme weather. Illinois, the country’s number one producer of soybeans, and number two producer of corn, has seen it all this year.
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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…

Projected U.S. drought extremes through the twenty-first century with vapor pressure deficit

Global warming is expected to enhance drought extremes in the United States throughout the twenty-first century. Projecting these changes can be complex in regions with large variability in atmospheric and soil moisture on small spatial…

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.


How a Saudi firm tapped a gusher of water in drought-stricken Arizona

By Isaac Stanley-Becker and Others   07/16/23  
A megadrought has seared Arizona, stressing its rivers and reservoirs and reducing water to a trickle in the homes of farmworkers near this desert valley.
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Drought and extreme heat burn through farmers’ margin for error — and it’s only July

By Annie Probert, J.J. McCorvey and Evan Bush   07/14/23  
Record-breaking heat and pockets of drought are baking farmland across the country, threatening crop yields and squeezing out any remaining wiggle room to cope with more extreme weather this summer.
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When Climate Change Hits Home

By David Gelles   07/11/23  
Even if you’ve been paying attention to climate change, it can sometimes feel very far away, distant in both space and time. But on Sunday night, as I was writing my first edition of this…
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Crucial Mojave Desert Water System to Rely on Microgrid Power

By Cathy Hitchens   06/14/23  
The Cadiz Water Conservation, Supply and Storage Project covers thousands of acres in the Mojave Desert. It’s designed to store water underground during wet periods, making the region’s water supply more resilient during extreme droughts.
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Climate change caused catastrophic East Africa drought, scientists say

By Sarah Kaplan   04/27/23  
A new analysis of the region's worst drought in 40 years said the crisis would not have happened in a cooler world....
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Colorado River snaking through Grand Canyon most endangered US waterway – report

By Nina Lakhani   04/18/23  
Unique ecosystem on the brink of collapse due to climate crisis and mismanagement, says conservation group American RiversA 277-mile stretch of the Colorado River that snakes through the iconic Grand Canyon is America’s most endangered…
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Amid soaking storms, California turns to farmland to funnel water into depleted aquifers

By Ian James   03/21/23  
As storms have drenched Northern California, water diverted from the swollen Sacramento River has been flowing from a canal and pouring onto 200 acres of farmland.
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California’s historic snowpack eases drought concerns through

By Andrew Freedman   03/16/23  
With California’s mountains buried under a historically deep snowpack and more storms on the way, the latest drought outlook from NOAA shows continuing improvement in the state’s drought situation.
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California was hit with 12 feet of snow. Is it enough to ease the drought?

By Joshua Partlow   03/04/23  
More than 12 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada, shutting down national parks and burying neighborhoods. But the flakes have also felt miraculous, dramatically improving the outlook for California's historic drought....
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If we want to save the planet, we have to save the elephants

By Cyril Christo   02/16/23  
When CEOs and business leaders arrived in the isolated Swiss town, climate change was on the table. But the absence of conversations about elephants and global biodiversity—crucial components of our ecosystems—were glaring inconsistencies in what…
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California lost 36 million trees to drought last year

By Angely Mercado   02/07/23  
Aerial surveys conducted from July 2022 to October 2022 surveyed 39.6 million acres (over 61,000 square miles) of tree canopy across California. The Forest Service found about 2.6 million acres (over 3,100 square miles) of…
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The “Law of the River” at the heart of the Colorado River crisis

By Hayley Smith and Ian James   02/03/23  
It’s a crisis nearly 100 years in the making: Seven states — all reliant on a single mighty river as a vital source of water — failed to reach an agreement this week on how…
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California is alone in battle over Colorado River water cuts

By Ian James   02/02/23  
After a key deadline passed this week without an agreement on how to address the Colorado River’s crisis, California is now sharply at odds with six other states over how to take less water from…
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A California town’s wastewater is helping it battle drought

By Naoki Nitta   01/23/23  
Standing under a shady tree drooping with pomegranates late last year, Brad Simmons, a retired metal fabricator who has lived in Healdsburg, California, for 57 years, showed off his backyard orchard. Along with the apple,…
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How Pinal County farmers are dealing with historic cuts to Arizona’s Colorado River water supply

By Whitney Clark   01/18/23  
Farming thousands of acres of alfalfa, Bermuda grass, and more, isn’t just a job for Jace Miller: it’s in his blood. “My great-great-grandfather came and homesteaded in gilbert in 1919 and began farming,” Miller said.…
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Arizona city cuts off a neighborhood’s water supply amid drought

By Joshua Partlow   01/16/23  
The survival — or at least the basic sustenance — of hundreds in a desert community amid the horse ranches and golf courses outside Phoenix now rests on a 54-year-old man with a plastic bucket…
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A Look Back: 2022’s Temperature Record

2022 effectively tied for Earth’s 5th warmest year since 1880, and the last 9 consecutive years have been the warmest 9 on record. NASA looks back at how heat was expressed in different ways around…
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Arizona Is in a Race to the Bottom of Its Water Wells, With Saudi Arabia’s Help

By Natalie Koch   12/26/22  
Arizona’s water is running worryingly low. Amid the worst drought in more than a millennium, which has left communities across the state with barren wells, the state is depleting what remains of its precious groundwater.…
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Amid drought, Arizona contemplates a fraught idea: Piping in water from Mexico

By Joshua Partlow   12/23/22  
As Arizona's water supply from the Colorado River dwindles, it is studying a $5 billion project to desalinate ocean water in Mexico and pump it 200 miles across the border....
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Disaster scenarios raise the stakes for Colorado River negotiations

By Joshua Partlow   12/17/22  
Those responsible for divvying up the Colorado River's dwindling supply are warning that unprecedented shortages could be coming to farms and cities in the West....
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Shrinking Colorado River could trigger an ultimatum for alfalfa

By Jennifer Yachnin   12/06/22  
At an Arizona forum, water managers said the time is ripe to reexamine the water consumption of the thirsty crop.
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Drought affecting more than half of U.S. as water scarcity reaches crisis

America's largest rivers are reaching their lowest levels ever, threatening water access for millions. CBS News anchor Anne-Marie Green breaks down the ongoing water scarcity crisis.
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Officials fear ‘complete doomsday scenario’ for drought-stricken Colorado River

By Joshua Partlow   12/01/22  
The first sign of serious trouble for the drought-stricken American Southwest could be a whirlpool. It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that’s already a quarter…
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U.S. government pledges $250 million to help ailing Salton Sea

By Ian James   11/29/22  
The Biden administration has announced a plan to provide $250 million to accelerate environmental projects around the shrinking Salton Sea, a major commitment intended to help revitalize the lake’s ecosystems and control hazardous dust in…
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Long stretches of the Mississippi River have run dry. What’s next?

By Laurence C. Smith   11/27/22  
Last month, record low water levels in the Mississippi River backed up nearly 3,000 barges — the equivalent of 210,000 container trucks — on America’s most important inland waterway. Despite frantic dredging, farmers could move…
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How The Forest Dies

By Terrence McCoy   11/18/22  
In her 60 years of life in the Amazon, Antonia Franco dos Santos has never had much money. Food was sometimes scarce. But never in the forest, with its heavy rains and endless rivers, had…
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Assessing the U.S. climate in October 2022

The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in October was 55.3°F, which is 1.2°F above average, ranking in the warmest third of the record.Generally temperatures were above average in New England and from parts of…
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October Was Bad News for the U.S. Drought

By Angely Mercado   11/10/22  
Recent hot and dry conditions have only fueled the seemingly endless drought that’s pummeling the U.S. for months. October saw higher-than-average temperatures and lower-than-average precipitation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this week.
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At 51 miles long, it’s one of America’s largest infrastructure projects.

By Michael Kimmelman   11/10/22  
February 1938 WAS a wet month in Los Angeles. The ground, where it hadn’t been paved over, was saturated, which meant rain had nowhere to go except into the streets, canals and washes. On the…
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In Hunt to Solve ‘Fairy Circle’ Mystery, One Suspect Is Dismissed

By Rachel Nuwer   11/01/22  
The strange, barren spots pepper the vast Namib Desert, which stretches from southern Angola to northern South Africa. They are known as “fairy circles,” and for a natural phenomenon with such a whimsical name, scientific…
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Along a withered Mississippi, a mixture of frustration, hope and awe

By Brady Dennis   10/30/22  
Over several days this past week, Washington Post climate reporter Brady Dennis drove more than 400 miles in five states, from Memphis to Cairo, Ill., talking with people whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked…
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What it looks like as drought strangles the mighty Mississippi

By Brady Dennis, Laris Karklis, Scott Dance and Tim Meko   10/26/22  
Sandra Nelson crouched at a spot of riverbed that would normally be deep underwater, gathering rocks and jars of soil as souvenirs. Nearby, a man with a metal detector roamed the barren ground for treasures…
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Seattle, a city known for rain, has received barely a drop since early June

By Jennifer Gray   10/18/22  
After a slow start to summer in Seattle – with temperatures consistently running below normal for the month of June – a huge change happened in July and the city has been sizzling since. “Sunday…
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Mississippi River levels are dropping too low for barges to float

By Scott Dance   10/12/22  
The Mississippi River is flowing at its lowest level in at least a decade, and until rain relieves a worsening drought in the region, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain water levels high enough to…
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Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

By Drew Costley   10/06/22  
Drought that stretched across three continents this summer — drying out large parts of Europe, the United States and China — was made 20 times more likely by climate change, according to a new study.…
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Beset by Drought, a West Texas Farmer Loses His Cotton Crop and Fears a Hotter and Drier Future State Water Planners Aren’t Considering

By Autumn Jones   10/05/22  
Climate change is helping fuel the drought, but the state’s political leaders won’t take global warming into account in their water management. “Climate change has become politicized,” says Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
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California Is Expected to Enter a Fourth Straight Year of Drought

By Soumya Karlamangla   09/30/22  
The state’s water year ends tomorrow, which has prompted predictions about what’s in store for the next 12 months. (California’s water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, so that the winter rainy season…
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Feds Will Spend Billions to Boost Drought-Stricken Colorado River System

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

By Annette McGivney   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…
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Where the Colorado River crisis is hitting home

By Kirk Siegler   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…
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2022 North American Wildfires

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…
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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.
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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…
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California Drought Leaving Rice Farmers Dry

By Jesse Newman and Others   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.…
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Spotty fall colors likely in New England amid drought

By Lisa Rathke   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…
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Drifting Toward Disaster: the (Second) Rio Grande – Inside Climate News

By 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…
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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,…
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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…
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California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

By Alex Fitzpatrick   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…
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