EDITORIAL

The drought you can't see

Science  26 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6204, pp. 1543
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260795

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

The Western Hemisphere is experiencing a drought of crisis proportions. In Central America, crops are failing, millions are in danger of starvation, and if the drought doesn't break soon, even vessels transiting the Panama Canal will need to lighten their loads, which will increase prices for goods transported globally. In the western United States, the drought-stricken region spans a vast area responsible for much of the nation's fruits, vegetables, and beef. As the drought's grip has tightened, water users have turned to tapping groundwater aquifers to make up the deficit for people, crops, livestock, and industry. But even when the rain does return, regreening the landscape and filling again the streams, lakes, and reservoirs, those aquifers will remain severely depleted. It is this underground drought we can't see that is enduring, worrisome, and in need of attention.