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Climate Change Having a Drastic Effect on River Flows

Climate Change Having a Drastic Effect on River Flows
March 14
15:21 2017

An unprecedented increase in temperatures has contributed to the nearly 20 percent decline in Colorado River flows that occurred from 2000 to 2014, according to a new report.

The report, by researchers from the University of Arizona and Colorado State University, acknowledges there are many factors behind declining Colorado River flows, but says climate change plays a larger part than previously thought, and warns the threat will grow if global warming is not addressed.

Colorado River flow could see declines of 30 percent by mid-century and over 50 percent by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the report alleges.

Warm temperatures are to blame for a flow reduction of at least a half-million acre-feet since 2000, about the amount of water that would be used by 2 million people in one year. During the same period the overall decline in Colorado River flow was about 2.9 million acre-feet of water.

Besides climate change, other factors that play into the decreasing flows are structural deficit, more water being withdrawn than is being replaced, and the record drought.

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