25% of Earth will be drier even if Paris climate targets met, study predicts
At least a quarter of the land surface of the Earth will become "considerably" drier even if global warming is kept below the upper international target of two degrees Celsius, according to new research published Monday.
But if the global temperature increase is held to the more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a much smaller fraction of the planet's surface — one-12th — would suffer that fate, researchers say.
The dryness of the Earth's surface, known as aridity, is a major factor in determining the incidence of natural disasters like drought and wildfires. Increases in aridity, or aridification, in a region tend to lead to the degradation of land and, eventually, desertification.
"Aridification is a serious threat because it can critically impact areas such as agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity," study lead author Chang-Eui Park of China's Southern University of Science and Technology said in a statement.