A study showed that the Southern Hemisphere has been exposed to drought more than the Northern Hemisphere in the last two decades (2001-2020). The authors point out that the main reason for the decline in available water is the El Niño climate phenomenon, which is characterized by abnormal warming of the waters of the Pacific Ocean in its equatorial part.
Water availability is decreasing
- The results were published in the journal Sciencesbased on satellite data and measurements of river and stream flows.
- From here, the researchers were able to calculate changes in water availability, that is, the difference between the amount of water available in the form of precipitation and the water that is removed into the atmosphere via general evaporation or by plants through their leaves.
- The new analysis reveals a sharp decline in water availability in South America, most of Africa and central and northwestern Australia.
- However, some areas, such as the southern part of South America, will have more water available.
- On the other hand, despite the large differences between regions, the study indicates that water availability in the Northern Hemisphere is fairly balanced.
- This is partly due to extensive human impacts such as irrigation, dams and food production.
- Such factors are even more important in the Northern Hemisphere, where about 90% of the world’s population lives.
- The information is from Science Alert.
Effects of drought in the south of the planet
The researchers claim that a decrease in available water in the Amazon forest, for example, would increase the risk of fires in vegetation. The result will be the release of greater amounts of carbon dioxide, which will increase global warming.
South America is also a major exporter of soybeans, sugar, meat, coffee, and fruits. Changes in water availability can lead to food shortages, leading to a global food crisis.
In Africa, this situation would increase already existing tensions on the continent. The study highlights the potential for increased poverty and hunger in the region.
On the other hand, northwestern Australia is full of large deserts. Reduced water in the region means changing vegetation patterns and a greater increase in temperatures, which could remain above 35°C for most of the year until 2100. The effects will still be felt in major Australian cities.
Finally, researchers warn that the effects of Southern Hemisphere drought will also affect Northern Hemisphere populations, although predicting the magnitude of these effects will be more complex.
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