A study found the current 22-year dry spell across southwestern North America has become more severe than a megadrought in the 1500s.

In the study, scientists analyzed major droughts in southwestern North America ranging back to the year 800 and identified that the region's desiccation so far this century has surpassed the severity of a megadrought in the late 1500s ultimately making it the driest 22-year stretch on record.

The authors of the study concluded that dry conditions will continue through this year and might even persist for years to come.

In addition, the researchers learned the current drought wouldn't be nearly as severe if it weren't for global warming.

They estimated that approximately 42% of the drought's severity could be attributed to higher temperatures which are being caused by greenhouse gases.

"The results are really concerning because it's showing that the drought conditions we are facing now are substantially worse because of climate change. But that also there is quite a bit of room for drought conditions to get worse," said Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA and the study's lead author.

The study also added to a growing body of research showing how the American West faces more challenges as the burning of fossil fuels continues to push temperatures higher, intensifying the drying trend.

"We need to understand that the water budget of the West is changing beneath our feet rapidly. We need to be prepared for a much drier future and to not rely so much on hope that when it gets wet again, we can just go back to business-as-usual water management."- Park Williams