Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 14637-14665, 2013
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Expansion of global drylands under a warming climate
S. Feng1 and Q. Fu2,3
1School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
2College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, China
3Department of atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Abstract. Global drylands encompassing hyper-arid, arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid areas cover about 41% of the earth's terrestrial surface and are home to more than a third of the world's population. By analyzing observations for 1948–2008 and climate model simulations for 1948–2100, we show that global drylands have expanded in last sixty years and will continue to expand in the 21st century. By the end of this century, the world's drylands under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario are projected to be 5.8 × 106 km2 (or 10%) larger than in the 1961–1990 climatology. The major expansion of arid regions will occur over southwest North America, the northern fringe of Africa, southern Africa, and Australia, while major expansions of semiarid regions will occur over the north side of the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and North and South America. The global dryland expansions will increase the population affected by water scarcity and land degradations.

Citation: Feng, S. and Fu, Q.: Expansion of global drylands under a warming climate, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 14637-14665, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-14637-2013, 2013.
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