A word we rarely hear but which is being used more and more is aridification. For those involved with water, it is an important word to know.
Aridification was coined in 2001 by the Colorado River Research Group, an independent team of scientists. It means "the gradual change of a region from a wetter to a drier climate."
While aridification can take place for several different reasons, invariably climate change is the principal culprit. As the repercussions of aridification increase here and in other parts of the world, it can and will likely have significant consequences. Among them are the following:
• Reduce and even eliminate agricultural production, potentially increasing food shortages
• Decrease underground water tables; this is a big concern today because so many parts of our country and around the world now receive the bulk of their water from underground sources
• Soil degradation; damaged ecosystems; and reductions in water runoff
• Less water for use by businesses and industry, potentially impacting profits, the survival of some companies, and the broader economy
• Force consumers to make drastic changes in how they use water.
Some parts of the U.S., such as New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah are already experiencing the effects of aridification.
And around the world, aridification is likely to cause an increased threat of droughts and wildfires, as indicated by a study published earlier this year in Nature Climate Change.
A research team studied weather and moisture projections using 27 global climate models, trying to identify areas of the world where aridification is likely to increase in years to come. According to their report:
"Aridification is a serious threat because it can critically impact areas such as agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity.”
They also reported that aridification will likely shift many areas of the world from experiencing moderate drought conditions from time to time, to more severe drought conditions on a more regular basis.
"In such a scenario, 15 percent of [the world's] semi-arid regions would experience conditions similar to 'arid' conditions," meaning they would go from dry to extremely dry conditions, bringing with it all the unfortunate ramifications mentioned earlier.
Areas of the world that will likely be some of the most impacted by aridification in coming years are the Mediterranean, Southern Africa, the eastern coast of Australia, as well as parts of Mexico and Brazil.
But the U.S. will not be spared. One state, Colorado, which is traditionally famous for being both water- and snow-rich, is already experiencing the repercussions of aridification. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor Report, 65 percent of Colorado experienced severe drought conditions during the bulk of 2018.
Drought conditions like this are becoming more common in other western states as well. Colorado is certainly not alone. Water experts say conditions like this are becoming the new "normal" in many areas of the country and the world, and these experts now believe using the term "drought" is no longer an accurate description of what is happening. Instead, they say the word aridification describes more precisely what is occurring.
For more information on ways to reduce water consumption and use water more efficiently, contact a Waterless Co representative at 800–244–6364.