Feb 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

1.5 billion tons of water evaporates from the Colorado River

the waters of Lake Powell
The waters of Lake Powell. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New research blames climate change for more than 1 billion tons of water that has evaporated from the Colorado River, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: The findings published in Science on Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the annual flow of the West's vital river is declining due to warmer temperatures, comparable to the annual water consumption of 10 million Americans.

  • The region's snowpack is shrinking and melting earlier, study authors conclude. The snow is vital to reflect heat from the Sun.
  • The river has been losing its annual flow since 2000 due to warmer temperatures.

Why it matters: Roughly 40 million Americans living in the West need the water from the Colorado River, which is shipped to states including California and Arizona for farming and drinking, the Post notes. It supports $1 trillion in economic activity per year.

Go deeper: Why climate change is a defining issue for 2020

Go deeper