Feb 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

1.5 billion tons of water evaporates from the Colorado River

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

Hardly anyone talks about climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Politicians, corporations, the media and activists are talking about climate change more than ever — but most Americans are not.

Be smart: If you’re reading this on social media, you’re probably the exception, not the rule. Just 9% of Americans talk about climate change often, surveys by Yale and George Mason University indicate.

How climate change helped drive Australia's fires

Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, some 200 miles north of Sydney on Nov. 12, 2019. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

Human-caused climate change helped fuel the weather conditions of Australia's unprecedented bushfires, an international team of climate scientists at the World Weather Attribution group found.

Why it matters: The conditions increased the chances of Australia experiencing extreme fire danger by at least 30%, an estimate researchers told a news briefing was conservative. This is the first time scientists have been able to quantify how climate change has affected the risk of fires, they said.

South Carolina exit polls: Climate change slips as top priority vs. Iowa, New Hampshire

A voter in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

South Carolina's Democratic primary voters were less likely to list climate change as a top issue compared to previous nominating contests, according to the AP's VoteCast exit polls.

The big picture: Health care, climate change and the economy have been the top 3 issues in each primary to this point.