Researchers say current water-resource planning underestimates the effect of climate change on the Colorado River water supplies.
Record-setting drought reduced flows on the Colorado River by nearly 20 percent for the first 15 years of this century, but scientists say drought is not the only reason the water has slowed.
Climate change made a bad situation worse, and points to a sobering future for one of the West’s most critical natural resources.
Warmer temperatures on the river — which lead to more evaporation, more use by plants, more water gone — accounted for the loss of at least a half-million acre-feet of water a year, the scientists said in a study released this week.
That’s about the amount of water needed to support 2 million people.