Share this article:
New research recently published in the Journal of Climate suggests that human-caused climate change and natural climate cycles have caused the world's largest, warm-weather desert to expand since the early 20th century.
The Sahara Desert. Image credit Wikipedia.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Maryland and funded by the National Science Foundation, is the first to assess century scale changes to the boundaries of the world's largest desert.
The research team determined that natural climate cycles accounted for two-thirds of the expansion and the remaining third was likely caused by man-made climate change.
The largest expansion of the Sahara desert occurred in summer, with a 16 percent increase in area compared to the summers back in the early 20th century.
The Sahara, like other deserts across the world, tends to expand during the dry winters and contract during the wetter summers.
What may be the specific causes of this long-term expansion?
Key excerpt from the National Science Foundation report.
"Deserts usually form in the subtropics because of what's called Hadley circulation, through which air rises at the equator and descends in the subtropics," said Sumant Nigam, who is an atmospheric and ocean scientist at the University of Maryland and senior author of the study. That circulation has a drying effect. "Climate change is likely to widen this Hadley circulation, causing the northward advance of subtropical deserts," said Nigam. "The southward creep of the Sahara suggests that additional mechanisms are at work."
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
There has been a 53-percent increase in extreme precipitation events in the northeastern United States since 1996.
Increasing global CO2 emissions are continuing to lower the pH of the oceans.
New research has found that there has a been an increase in short, intense rain events over Australia during the past 50 years.
June was another abnormally warm month globally.
New research has determined that this slowdown of the AMOC is not caused by global warming but is part of a decades-long cycle that will have an impact on temperatures in the coming decades.
Data indicates that there has been a slight downward trend in the annual maximum extent of Great Lakes ice cover since the 1970s.
A new study concludes that global warming may eventually be twice as warm as what current climate model consensus indicates.
The increased use of air conditioning in a warming world may lead to a significant degradation of air quality in the eastern U.S. by mid-century.