World to become drier, drought and wildfires to increase with global warming of 2°C
January 2, 2018

According to researchers, even a rise of just 2 degrees Celsius in global warming could make over a quarter of the world's land to become drier and desert-like.

The change is expected to increase the threat of drought and wildfires. On the other hand, limiting the rise in temperature to under 1.5 degree Celsius would help dramatically reduce the fraction of the Earth's surface that will undergo such changes.

The study was undertaken by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK and Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in China.

Key Highlights

• The researchers studied projections from 27 global climate models.
• They identified 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 1.5 or two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
• The study was published in the journal called Nature Climate Change.

Background

The world has already warmed by one degree Celsius.
As a result, drought severity has been increasing across the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and the eastern coast of Australia over the course of the 20th Century.

The rise in temperature has also led the semi-arid areas of Mexico, Brazil, southern Africa and Australia to encounter aridity and desertification.

What is Aridity?

Aridity is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained by combining precipitation and evaporation.

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.