Much of the western United States has been experiencing a historic and unrelenting drought, the worst in the region in centuries.
A study published in Nature Climate Change found the period from 2000 to 2021 was the driest in 1,200 years. Last year's drought severity was "exceptional," researchers said, and all indications are the extreme conditions will continue through 2022.
The human-caused climate crisis has made the megadrought 72% worse, the study noted.
On August 16, the federal government announced that starting in January the Colorado River will operate in a Tier 2 shortage condition for the first time, as the drought has taken a severe toll on the river and the nation's largest reservoirs -- Lake Mead and Lake Powell.
Amid the overuse of the river and the aridification of the region, the federal government is implementing mandatory water cuts and asking states to devise a plan to save the river basin. The Tier 2 shortage means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will have to further reduce their Colorado River use.