When will Lake Mead go dry?
Article first published online: 29 MAR 2008
Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
Water Resources Research
Volume 44, Issue 3, March 2008
How to Cite
2008), When will Lake Mead go dry? Water Resour. Res., 44, W03201, doi:10.1029/2007WR006704., and (
- Issue published online: 29 MAR 2008
- Article first published online: 29 MAR 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 FEB 2008
- Manuscript Revised: 22 JAN 2008
- Manuscript Received: 27 NOV 2007
- Lake Mead;
- Lake Powell;
- global warming;
- water budgets;
- water supply;
- Colorado River
 A water budget analysis shows that under current conditions there is a 10% chance that live storage in Lakes Mead and Powell will be gone by about 2013 and a 50% chance that it will be gone by 2021 if no changes in water allocation from the Colorado River system are made. This startling result is driven by climate change associated with global warming, the effects of natural climate variability, and the current operating status of the reservoir system. Minimum power pool levels in both Lake Mead and Lake Powell will be reached under current conditions by 2017 with 50% probability. While these dates are subject to some uncertainty, they all point to a major and immediate water supply problem on the Colorado system. The solutions to this water shortage problem must be time-dependent to match the time-varying, human-induced decreases in future river flow.