By 2100 billions of people will be at risk from more floods, higher temperatures, and less food and water. A new study published in Nature Climate Change found that climate change will cause the Earth’s tropical rain belt to shift unevenly in areas covering nearly two-thirds of the world, potentially improving environmental and food security for billions of people People endangered.
The tropical rain belt, also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), is a narrow area that orbits the earth near the equator, where trade winds from the northern and southern hemispheres meet. Areas along the equator are some of the warmest on earth and this, along with the winds, creates significant humidity and rainfall.
“Our work shows that climate change will cause the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt to move in opposite directions in two longitudinal sectors that cover nearly two-thirds of the world,” lead author Antonios Mamalakis said in a statement on the cascading effects Water availability and food production around the world. ”
How is the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt affected by #climatechange in different parts of the world? Read our new #Research posted on @NatureClimate with @SpringerNature to find out! Https://t.co/auSD6JXSf9
Some important points below (1/6). pic.twitter.com/QXWI68GHXj
– Antonios Mamalakis (@ AntoniosMamala2) January 18, 2021
Mamalakis and other researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing computer simulations made from 27 climate models. In particular, they examined how the rain belt would react if greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise until the end of the current century.
In a video posted on YouTube, Mamalakis stated that the belt is likely to shift between 2075 and 2100.
Over East Africa and the Indian Ocean, evidence shows that the ITCZ will move north. This is likely to lead to “increased drought stress over Madagascar and increased flooding over southern India,” Mamalakis said.
Madagascar is already seeing the devastating effects of the ongoing drought. According to the United Nations, half of the region’s population has been affected by several years of drought and many families have had to live on eating insects. The area has the 10th highest stunt rate in the world. Almost half of the children under five in Madagascar suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Meanwhile, the ITCZ will also shift south across the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic, Mamalakis said, which is likely to lead to increased drought stress over Central America.
Zonally contrasting shifts in the tropical rain belt in response to climate change by Antonios Mamalakis on YouTube
Greenhouse gas emissions play an important role in climate change as they trap the heat emitted by the sun.
Fellow researcher James Randerson said the effects will be felt “faster” in certain areas, including Asia.
“In Asia, due to projected reductions in aerosol emissions, the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the loss of snow cover caused by climate change, the atmosphere will warm faster in northern areas than in other regions,” Randerson said. “We know that the rainbelt is shifting in the direction of this warming and that its northward movement in the eastern hemisphere is consistent with these expected effects of climate change.”
The researchers have said that with this information, the next step is to find out more precisely how these changes will affect natural disasters, infrastructure and ecosystems, and what policy and management changes need to be made.