Over a quarter of the world’s land could become significantly drier if global warming reaches 2ºC - according to new research from an international team including the University of East Anglia.
The change would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires. But limiting global warming to under 1.5ºC would dramatically reduce the fraction of the Earth’s surface that undergoes such changes.
The findings, published today in Nature Climate Change, are the result of an international collaboration led by the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen China and UEA.
Aridity is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained from combining precipitation and evaporation. The research team studied projections from 27 global climate models to identify the areas of the world where aridity will substantially change when compared to the year-to-year variations they experience now, as global warming reaches 1.5ºC and 2ºC above pre-industrial levels.
Dr Chang-Eui Park from SusTech, one of the authors of the study, said: “Aridification is a serious threat because it can critically impact areas such as agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity. It can also lead to more droughts and wildfires - similar to those seen raging across California.
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