With the hot temperatures in the American Southwest ever-increasing, the risk of a long-lasting mega drought within the southwest will continue to grow. Scientists have projected that the chance of a 35 year long (or maybe longer) mega drought by the end of the century can grow as high as 99% across the region if we continue the trend of high emission growth. This number assumes precipitation rates are unchanged. Even if precipitation rates do grow, we are still looking at a 70% risk. The warmer temperatures can cause a process called evapotranspiration, which is the removal of moisture of the soil, affecting native plants and creating a more arid landscape. The great news is, if we can meet the favorable Representative Concentration Pathways’ (RCP2.6) trajectory created by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Southwest will only grow 1.9 degrees Celsius warmer and we can reduce the risk to 66% with no change in precipitation. Even better, the risk falls to 20% if temperatures are held to 1 degree Celsius. These results are extremely sobering and scary, to say the least. The mega drought can hit the western parts of Central America, affecting the lives of millions of people. You can read more about mega droughts here.