But Keeping Temp Rise At 1.5°C Can Restrict Damage
Paris: More than a quarter of Earth’s land surface will become “significantly” drier even if humanity manages to limit global warming to 2°C, the goal espoused in the Paris Agreement, scientists have said.
But if we contain average warming to 1.5°C, this will be limited to about a tenth — sparing two-thirds of the land projected to parch under 2°C, they concluded in a study published in ‘Nature Climate Change’ on Monday.
At 1.5°C, parts of southern Europe, southern Africa, central America, coastal Australia and Southeast Asia — areas home to more than a fifth of humanity — “would avoid significant aridification” predicted under 2°C, said study co-author Su-Jong Jeong of the Southern University of Science & Technology in China. “Accomplishing 1.5°C would be a meaningful action for reducing the likelihood of aridification and related impacts,” he said.
Jeong and a team used projections from several climate models, under different warming scenarios, to predict land drying patterns. Aridification is a major threat, hastening land degradation and desertification, and the loss of plants and trees crucial for absorbing Earth-warming carbon dioxide. It also boosts droughts and wildfires, and affects water quality for farming and drinking.
The team found that at 2°C, which could arrive any time between 2052 and 2070, between 24% and 32% percent of the total land surface will become drier.
This includes land in all five climate categories today — hyper-arid, arid, semi-arid, dry subhumid, and humid. But at 1.5°C — the lower, aspirational limit also written into the Paris Agreement — this is reduced to between eight and 10%, said Jeong.
Under the pact, countries have filed pledges for reducing climatealtering greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and natural gas. But these goals place the planet on track for warming of more than 3°C, which scientists warn will lead to life-threatening superstorms, sea-level rise, floods and drought. AFP