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[greenyes] Climate Disruption - Suspected Effects on African Drought


May 24, 2005
Ocean Warmth Tied to African Drought
Few places are more vulnerable to drought than Africa. From the Sahel south
of the Sahara to the southern lobe of the turbulent continent, there is a
simple calculus, said Dr. Richard Washington, an expert on the region's
climate at Oxford: "When the rains fail, people die."
So a concerted effort has been made over the last five years to understand
what drives dry spells there and what will occur in a future warmed by
accumulating heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. Most climate experts
now say that significant human-caused warming is inevitable.
One new study bodes particularly poorly for southern Africa, indicating that
a 50-year-long drying trend there is likely to continue and appears tightly
linked to substantial warming of the Indian Ocean.
The authors of the study say that the heating of that ocean, which lacks the
natural variability of the Pacific and Atlantic, is one of the clearest
fingerprints pointing to human-caused climate change.

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