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Tropical Atlantic cooling and African deforestation correlate to drought, report scientists

nalyzed data from four lakes that are distributed across central Africa on the monsoon belt. The three sea surface cooling periods found by the scientists correlate to records of low lake levels. These clearly were times of drought; the land became more arid.

The authors state, "periods of drought likely brought about environmental hardship, triggering population migration, giving rise to changes in the modes of agricultural production, and influencing the fall or rise of civilizations."

Weldeab points out that the past 50 years are marked by deforestation and overgrazing much greater than that of the past, thus disturbing the climate system that results from the coupling of sea surface temperature and vegetation cover on land.

"We can't predict how, but it is clear that this human-induced change will change the terrestrial and ocean system," he says. He notes that droughts in this region are currently occurring more frequently than in the past few thousand years, although the frequency of the droughts is unpredictable.

"People in less developed countries live from rain, harvests and animal husbandry," says Weldeab. "Drought directly affects them; they run out of food for people and animals."


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Source:University of California - Santa Barbara


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