We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we tell you that the American West has seen significant drought conditions in recents years. However, according to recent research, it may be worse than previously thought. As The Atlantic reports, the American West could be experiencing a mega-drought.

A team of climate scientists recently made the case for a mega-drought, which would be the first in several hundred years. As the scientists claim, the West began seeing record-breaking aridness 18 years ago, which has continued to this day. The Atlantic has more:

According to research unveiled last week, mega-droughts may no longer be history. On Thursday, a team of climate scientists argued that the American West may currently be experiencing its first mega-drought in more than 500 years. A record-breaking period of aridity set in around the year 2000 and continues to this day, they said.

“The last 19 years have been equivalent to the worst 19 years of the worst mega-droughts on record,” said Park Williams, a professor of bioclimatology at Columbia University, at a presentation of the work. Only three recent mega-droughts—in the late 800s, the mid-1100s, and the late 1500s—were worse than the current period, he added.

Climate change seems to be driving a good chunk of the problem. “The current drought is substantially worse than it would have been without global warming,” Williams said. The drought was 62 percent more severe than it would have been, he said, due to human-caused climate change.

Read the full story on The Atlantic.

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