Josh Edelson/APFILE - Water drips from a faucet near boat docks sitting on dry land at the Browns Ravine Cove area of drought-stricken Folsom Lake in Folsom, Calif.By: Seth Borenstein, AP Science WriterPosted at 11:32 AM, Feb 14, 2022and last updated 2022-02-14 17:05:06-05

(AP) -- The megadrought bedeviling the American West got even drier last year and is becoming the deepest dry spell in more than 1,200 years.

West megadrought worsens to driest in at least 1,200 years

Monday's study from the journal Nature Climate Change says the megadrought is now the worst-case scenario officials and scientists worried about in the 1900s.

In the study, researchers said, "Since the year 2000, southwestern North America has been unusually dry due to low precipitation totals and heat, punctuated most recently by exceptional drought in 2021."

The drought deepened so much in 2021 that it is 5% worse than the old record in the late 1500s.

Scientists compare this megadrought to what would happen in a hypothetical world without human-caused climate change. And they calculate that 42% of this drought is due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels.

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