- Over a quarter of the world’s land could become significantly drier even if global warming is limited to the target of two degree Celsius, according to scientists including one of Indian origin.
- The change would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires.
- However, limiting global warming to under 1.5 degree Celsius would dramatically reduce the fraction of the Earth’s surface that undergoes such changes.
- Researchers from University of East Anglia (UEA) in the U.K. and Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in China 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.
- Aridity is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained from combining precipitation and evaporation.
- “Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 per cent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches two degrees Celsius.
- “But two thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- “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.