Hotter Drier Climates

In general, scientists expect the world to become wetter as it grows warmer, with more rainfall, more severe storms, more flooding, and possibly more hurricanes. Higher temperatures may also cause drought and dryness in some areas, however. David Archer notes that there is a particular danger of drier climates in continental interiors, which could threaten major agricultural regions such as the Great Plains of the United States. Archer also says that "The greenhouse climate has the potential to produce what are called mega-droughts, lasting for a decade or longer."19

An example of one region that could be hard hit by mega-droughts is West Africa. A group of researchers led by Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona recently studied lake sediments in the region. They discovered that the climate in West Africa used to be much drier than it is today. Over the last 3,000

PROJECTED CHANGES IN PRECIPITATION FROM 1980-99 TO 2090-99

December-February

June-August

Scale by Latitude

Miles

Percent Change

-+20

-+10

- +5

--10

--20

I I unclear change

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online, "Projected Changes in Precipitation from 1980-99 to 2090-99," 2008.

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