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World War II-era boat revealed as Lake Mead dries out from intense drought

The boat is just the latest artefact to emerge from the changes wrought by the climate crisis

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Tuesday 12 July 2022 18:34 BST
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Lake Mead Water Levels Hit Historic Low

As intense drought pummels the American West, Lake Mead has dropped to historically low levels.

And some previously hidden items from the bottom of the lake have now come to the surface — for example, in the spring, a body resurfaced in a barrel, believed to be the victim of decades-old crime.

Now, a boat from World War II has resurfaced, having sunk years ago.

The boat, a landing craft, was once 185 feet below the water’s surface, reports the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Once, it had been used to survey the Colorado River — out of which Lake Mead is formed — and eventually sold to a marina, the paper adds.

The National Parks Service told the Journal that the boat still has some armour plating and was sold as surplus supply from the war. These kinds of ships were originally used to bring soldiers to shore, the paper continues.

The landing craft, as seen from the receding shoreline of Lake Mead (EPA)

Water levels in Lake Mead have dropped to record lows as intense and unrelenting drought cripples much of the western US. Currently, the region surrounding the lake is experiencing “Exceptional Drought” conditions, the highest drought level on the federal government’s drought monitor.

Conditions today are part of the decades-long “megadrought” that has spanned over 20 years. One study found that this period has been the driest 22 years in the region since at least the year 800 CE.

In addition to revealing curiosities like this boat, the drought has threatened water supplies for states like Nevada, Arizona and California that rely on snowpack and water in the Colorado River to hydrate cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

And things are likely to get worse as the climate crisis continues. As the world reached 2 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial temperatures, droughts that used to happen once every ten years will now happen more than twice as often, according to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With further warming, those impacts will likely get even worse. Currently, the world is on track to reach around 2.7C of warming by the end of the century, according to the Climate Action Tracker, an independent analysis of global climate policy.

Around the world, changes like warming and drought have revealed everything from ancient animals to artefacts.

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