Extreme Global Drought in 30 Years

In Drought & Fires, Europe, News Headlines, Scientific Reports

Large swathes of the planet could experience extreme drought within the next 30 years unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut, a study warns.

“We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognised by both the public and the climate change research community,” National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai, who conducted the study, said.

“If the projections in this study come even close to being realised, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous.”

Parts of Asia, the United States and southern Europe, and much of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East could be hit by severe drought in the next few decades, with regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea seeing “almost unprecedented” drought conditions, the study says.

Meanwhile, higher-latitude regions from northern Europe to Russia, Canada, Alaska and India could become wetter, according to the study published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change.

But increased moisture in those regions would not make up for the drier conditions across much of the rest of the world.

“The increased wetness over the northern, sparsely populated high latitudes can’t match the drying over the more densely populated temperate and tropical areas,” Mr Dai said.

Mr Dai used results from 22 computer models used by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to make projections about temperature, precipitation and humidity and other climate factors based on current projections of greenhouse gas emissions.

Maps of the world that Mr Dai produced using the data show “severe drought by the 2060s over most of Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East, most of the Americas [except Alaska and northern Canada, Uruguay, and north-eastern Argentina], Australia, and South East Asia,” the study says.

The maps also show that most of central and northern Eurasia, Alaska and northern Canada, and India would become wetter over the same period.

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