The Sahara is growing, thanks in part to climate change

This article discusses how climate change is the likely cause for the Sahara Desert increasing in size. The study also posits that it could do the same elsewhere.

The study was published Thursday in the Journal of Climate. The authors said that although their research focused only on the Sahara, it suggests that climate changes also could be causing other hot deserts to expand — with potentially harsh economic and human consequences.

Deserts form in subtropical regions because of a global weather circulation called the Hadley cell. Warm air rises in the tropics near the equator, producing rain and thunderstorms. When the air hits the top of the atmosphere, it spreads north and south toward the poles. It does not sink back down until it is over the subtropics, but as it does, the air warms and dries out, creating deserts and other areas that are nearly devoid of rain.

“Climate change is likely to widen the Hadley circulation, causing northward advance of the subtropical deserts,” Nigam said in a statement that announced the study.

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