This summer, regions around the world have been mired in drought, and lower water levels in rivers and lakes are revealing long-hidden secrets and artifacts. Some are leaving a chilling warning to humanity about the devastation that climate change could bring.
Since May, three separate human bodies have been found in Nevada’s Lake Mead, a reservoir on the Colorado River formed by the Hoover Dam. On Wednesday, local authorities identified one of the bodies as Thomas Erndt, a 42-year-old man who is believed to have drowned 20 years ago.
There are rumors that the bodies may be the remains of those killed. The first victim, found in May, was shot in the head and stuffed into a barrel before being thrown into a lake, with some speculating that this may have been the result of a mafia attack from nearby Las Vegas. Police said last week that they found a gun displayed next to the body.
The bodies were found as the water in the lake dropped to what the UN Environment Program warned earlier this month is “dangerously low”. In 1983, Lake Mead was 1225 feet above sea level, but now it is at 1040 feet and is only 27% of its capacity.
It was revealed on Wednesday that prints of an Acrocanthosaurus — a 15-foot-tall dinosaur that lived 13 million years ago — recently appeared at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, where the Paluxy River has dried up almost completely thanks to a drought called “exceptional” by the American organization. for drought monitoring.
Experts have linked this year’s significant heat wave and severe droughts to climate change, noting that warmer air causes more water to evaporate and also increases the risk of drought for a variety of other reasons, such as reduced snow cover.
This summer in Europe, record-breaking heatwaves of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit swept the continent and resulted in thousands of deaths. France, Spain and other countries are suffering from associated droughts, and the wildfire season could be the worst on record.
The water level drops and long-submerged artifacts emerge.
In Serbia last week, a flotilla of Nazi warships surfaced along the Danube River, which has fallen to its lowest level in a century. Another relic of World War II, an unexploded bomb, appeared in Italy as the waters of the Po receded. Fishermen discovered a US-made bomb on July 25 near the village of Borgo Virgilio in northern Italy.
Parts of Italy are suffering from the worst drought in 70 years. In the northwestern region of Lombardy, wooden stakes dating back to the prehistoric period from 2300 to 700 BC have been discovered in a dry bed of the Oglio River. And in Piedmont, the Sesia, a tributary of the Po, sank so low that the ruins of a medieval red-brick bridge were exposed. An ancient Roman bridge has been revived in Rome due to the low level of the Tiber River.
In Germany, “hunger stones” have surfaced along the Rhine River. These are stones with famine engravings to warn future generations when water levels become dangerously low. The most recently discovered stones include the dates 1947, 1959, 2003 and 2018.
Like the western part of the United States, the Iberian Peninsula has become the driest in the last 1200 years. In July, Spain’s hottest month in 61 years, reservoirs were only 40% full on average. This exposed the Guadalperal Dolmen, a prehistoric stone circle with over 100 standing stones that was discovered by German archaeologist Hugo Obermayer in 1926 and dates back to around 7,000 years ago. The rocks were flooded as a result of the creation of a dam and reservoir in the 1960s. Meanwhile, north of Barcelona, an 11th-century church, which disappeared into a dam in 1963, is completely exposed.
Ancient religious artifacts also appear in the Middle East and East Asia.
In Iraq, a former city of the Mitanni empire dating back some 3,400 years has been discovered in the reservoir of the Mosul Dam, which has been drained so the water can save dying crops.
Severe drought and prolonged heat waves in southwest China have caused power outages as hydroelectric dams do not have enough water to operate at full capacity. An island with three ancient Buddhist statues appeared on the Yangtze River.
While no ancient wonders have been discovered, East Africa is also suffering from a drought that the UN warns could trigger widespread famine.
Even the normally wet parts of the United States are drying up. Last week, the US Drought Monitoring Service called key parts of the northeast “severe drought.” Local farmers feel the heat. New York’s WNBC Channel 4 reported that the New Jersey crop is “noticeably smaller than before” due to the drought.
As climate change disrupts the water cycle and makes droughts more frequent and severe, these conditions may not be exceptional but may instead represent the new normal.
“Conditions in the American West that we see around the Colorado River Basin have been so dry for over 20 years that we are no longer talking about drought,” said Lis Mullin Bernhardt, UN Environment Ecosystems Expert. , said when her agency issued its dire warning about the western US: “We’re calling it ‘aridification’ — the new, very dry normal.”
As for how humanity is adapting to water scarcity, the signs so far are disappointing. Water restrictions are already in place in a number of US jurisdictions, including parts of California. The Colorado River is on the verge of a crisis. Cape Town, South Africa, is already in such a crisis.