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Global Warming Expanding Tropics—As Always, The Poor Will Bear The Burdens

The portion of the Earth covered by tropics has expanded since 1979 and will continue to expand as the world warms.

From the BBC article—  

While geographers define “The Tropics” rigidly as the region between 23.5 degrees North and 23.5 degrees South, to atmospheric scientists it is a more variable zone marked by features such as the jet stream and the circulation known as Hadley cells.

On these measures, the tropics have expanded since the era of reliable satellite observation began in 1979.

“The edges of the tropical belt are the outer boundaries of the subtropical dry zones, and their poleward shift could lead to fundamental shifts in ecosystems and in human settlements,” the researchers write in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Shifts in precipitation patterns would have obvious implications for agriculture and water resources, and could present serious hardships in marginal areas.”

As is the case in so many aspects of life, the poor will bear many of the most difficult burdens of this climate change.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its series of reports this year that serious impacts on food and water supplies lie ahead, including:

  • 75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020
  • Crop yields could increase by 20% in East and South East Asia, but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia
  • Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020

The scientists behind the new study note that the tropical zone appears to be expanding much faster than predicted by computer models.

Some people think of the tropics of being like the photo above.

But for many, expanded tropics will make life more like the photo below

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 8 Comments