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Sahara may be Greener

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 3 months ago

The Greening of the Sahara


Global warming could significantly increase rainfall in Saharan Africa within a few decades, potentially ending the severe droughts that have devastated the region, a new study suggests.


The discovery was made by climate experts at the Royal Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, the Netherlands, who used a computer model to predict changes in the Sahel region - a wide belt stretching from the Atlantic to the horn of Africa that includes Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.


Global warming will heat the land more than the sea, leading to changes in air pressure and weather. When the Netherlands team simulated this effect and combined it with warming caused by the expected rises in greenhouse gas emissions between 1980 and 2080, they found Sahel rainfall in the July to September period jumped 1-2mm a day.


Some scientists suspected that global warming might increase rainfall in the region, causing the so-called greening of the Sahara, but these are the biggest predicted increases so far.


In fact, recent droughts in Niger and Mali notwithstanding, the Sahara has already been in retreat for quite some time now. Global warming will likely be devastating for many, but let's not pretend that no one stands to benefit immensely from it as well. The question is then how (or even whether) to offset the gains against the losses, rather than imposing a worldwide regime so restrictive that it devastates everybody's prospects for growth.


September 16, 2005 in Science | Permalink

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