Source:Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Eastward Bound: The 100th meridian west (solid line) has long been considered the divide between the relatively moist eastern United States, and the more arid West. Climate change may already have started shifting the divide eastward (dotted line).
Credit: Modified from Seager et al. Earth Interactions, 2018


100th meridian: East-west divide between moist and arid parts of U.S. may be shifting: Warming climate may push western aridity to the east.

Nearly a century and a half after explorer John Wesley Powell zeroed in on the 100th meridian west as the dividing line between the humid east and arid west of the United States, researchers say he was right — but that climate change is now moving the line eastward, into the traditionally fertile Midwest. The effects on U.S. farming and other pursuits could be huge.

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