From: Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters
Published April 17, 2009 09:04 AM

Climate change could worsen African "megadroughts"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The recent decades-long drought that killed 100,000 people in Africa's Sahel may be a small foretaste of monstrous "megadroughts" that could grip the region as global climate change worsens, scientists reported on Thursday.

Droughts, some lasting for centuries, are part of the normal pattern in sub-Saharan Africa. But the added stress of a warming world will make these dry periods more severe and more difficult for the people who live there, the scientists said.

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"Clearly, much of West Africa is already on the edge of sustainability, and the situation could become much more dire in the future with increased global warming," said University of Arizona climatologist Jonathan Overpeck, a co-author of the study published in the journal Science.

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