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Over 25 percent of the Earth's land surface may become much drier if the world warms to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
However, if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower, it would dramatically reduce the fraction of the world's surface that undergoes such changes, according to the EurekAlert story.
If these regions become much drier, it will increase the risk of severe drought and wildfires.
The research team used 27 global climate models to find regions of the world where aridity will significantly change when compared to the year-to-year variations they experience now as global warming reaches the 1.5 to 2.0 degree Celsius range above pre-industrial levels.
Key excerpts from the EurekAlert report.....
Dr Su-Jong Jeong from SusTech said: "The world has already warmed by 1C. But by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5C or 2C could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world."
Drought severity has been increasing across the Mediterranean, southern Africa and the eastern coast of Australia over the course of the 20th century, while semi-arid areas of Mexico, Brazil, southern Africa and Australia have encountered desertification for some time as the world has warmed.
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