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Climate change may turn arid Sahel green

One of Africa's driest regions - the Sahel - could turn greener if the planet warms more than 2 degrees Celsius and triggers more frequent heavy rainfall, scientists said on Wednesday.

The Sahel stretches coast to coast from Mauritania and Mali in the west to Sudan and Eritrea in the east, and skirts the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It is home to more than 100 million people.

The region has seen worsening extreme weather - including more frequent droughts - in recent years.

But if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the resulting global warming - of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - could change major weather patterns in the Sahel, and in many different parts of the world, scientists say.

Some weather models predict a small increase in rainfall for the Sahel, but there is a risk that the entire weather pattern will change by the end of the century, researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said.

CIFOR/Daniel Tiveau

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