The BBC reports that Western America is experiencing the worst drought since 800 AD, during the reign of Charlemagne. That result emerges from a new study in the journal Natural climate change. Scientists were able to determine the severity by examining ancient beams and tree growth rings preserved in the archeological sites of Native American tribes.
Last year, the United States declared a water shortage for the first time in the southwestern Colorado River. As a result, 40 million Americans had less water than usual. There has been a drought for more than 22 years now. The last drought that lasted for decades, in the 16th century, was not nearly as severe, the BBC says.
Rivers, reservoirs and lakes in the US state of California are sinking, increasing wildfires. “We have a community that relies on the same amount of water as it did in the 1900s,” UCLA Professor Park Williams, the study’s lead author, told National Public Radio. “But now that the number of water molecules we have is dwindling, it’s time to ask ourselves how much water we can use.”