The grasslands of the northern United States are shrinking at a faster rate than any other place in the country, as a changing climate and agricultural practices are leaving millions of acres of land in peril, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The study found that, by the year 2050, roughly 7 million acres of grassland and wetlands will be cut down by livestock, a decrease of 1.5 million acres annually, the authors wrote.
That’s the equivalent of removing an area the size of California from the landscape.
The changes are already having a devastating effect on many of the country’s most iconic landscapes.
As the study points out, the loss of wetlands, which are common in the U.S. Southwest, could result in more than 6 million acres in the United States lost to erosion and flooding, the destruction of wildlife habitat, and the destruction or degradation of precious natural resources, such as wetlands and other water resources.
The researchers also found that the loss and destruction of wetlands and grasslands is accelerating across the nation.
The authors analyzed land area loss and damage over the past 150 years, finding that between 1970 and 2010, grasslands and wetlands shrank by 1.2 million acres, and in the next 30 years, that number could grow to as much as 7.2 billion acres, the study found.
The loss of grasslands has a significant impact on water supplies.
“The loss of large swaths of wetlands is a major driver of the water shortages that we are seeing across the country,” said Dr. Paul Stoll, lead author of the study and a professor of environmental science and engineering at Penn State University.
“What is really shocking is that we’re seeing more and more of the wetlands disappearing, and we’re just seeing it happening at a very rapid rate,” said Stoll.
“It’s very, very worrying.”
The loss and devastation of wetlands are a result of many factors, including pollution from livestock and waste management practices, and land clearing and grazing, which can cause the land to become saturated with nutrients that lead to soil erosion and loss.
“This is the real story of what’s going on,” said study co-author and Penn State environmental science professor Dr. Jeffrey Miller, who is also a professor in the Penn State Department of Environmental Science and Engineering.
“We are seeing these changes at a rate that’s unprecedented in the last 150 years.”
Miller added that if the land loss and erosion continues at its current rate, “there’s no way we’re going to avoid a serious water crisis.”
Land loss in the Southwest is expected to have the biggest impact on the West and Midwest, as it’s a region that includes many of America’s most important waterways.
While the study doesn’t include any specific estimates of the extent of the region’s loss, the researchers note that the Southwest has the second largest amount of wetlands in the nation and has a number of major waterways.
Miller said that the biggest threat to wetlands in Southwest is the loss by livestock of water that is crucial for water quality and for controlling the growth of invasive plants, which include some grasses.
“Land degradation is really an environmental problem,” Miller said.
“If you have land degradation, you’ve got a problem that’s not going to be addressed.”
For instance, when grasslands are cleared for pasture and land is cleared for crops, the soil in the grasslands dries out, which in turn leads to erosion.
This causes water to flow into rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands, where it can eventually become polluted with runoff and nutrients.
“They can create a really bad situation for water in the watersheds,” Miller added.
“And then you have the runoff that ends up in the water bodies of those waterways.”
While the loss is happening faster than expected, it’s still being felt across the West, Miller said, and not just in the Midwest.
“There’s not a lot of people who are aware of this problem,” he said.
The research is part of a larger study looking at the impact of climate change on the environment and wildlife.
The new study comes at a time when the Trump administration has taken steps to increase the speed of cutting down land and water.
Department of Agriculture recently announced a plan to cut 1 million acres from the state of Washington by 2040, and to increase grazing by livestock to 2 million acres by 2060.
“Agriculture is the backbone of the U, and when you start to slow it down, you are going to have a really negative impact on wildlife,” said Miller.
“So we really have to get that back on track.
We have to put it on the fast track.
There’s a lot more work to be done, and I think that the Trump Administration is very committed to that.”
Miller said the new study is also part of the larger effort of scientists and conservationists to figure out what’s causing the grassland loss and the rapid pace at which it