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Scientists Predict 10 pct Dryland Expansion Globally by 2100

Sep 02, 2023

Photo taken on Jan. 23, 2022 shows a view of the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Worcester, South Africa. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)
BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Scientists have predicted a great reduction in terrestrial water storage in the next 70 years, accompanied by an expansion of global drylands up to about 10 percent, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The water storage reduction is dominated by precipitation and evapotranspiration variability, and could reach 41 to 84 percent by 2100, according to the findings of the latest study published in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science.

To figure out the response of terrestrial water storage to dryland vegetation growth, a research team from the Aerospace Information Research Institute under the CAS conducted the study based on satellite observations and model outputs.

They observed an overall increase in vegetation growth across drylands worldwide between 1982 and 2016, during which the terrestrial water storage in these regions decreased. The findings demonstrate a negative correlation between the two indicators, especially in areas dominated by farmland, the CAS said.

Using remote sensing observations, model simulations and machine learning methods, the team of researchers further predicted that the global drylands may expand by 4.1 to 10.6 percent by 2100 with a great reduction in terrestrial water storage.

The findings highlight the need for concerted planning for balanced ecological restoration, agricultural management and water resource utilization, according to the study.

Source: Xinhua