Aussie study warns of more "mega-droughts" as a result of climate change

2020-10-30 07:05:34 GMT2020-10-30 15:05:34(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists have warned to expect more mega-droughts, lasting two decades or longer, as global temperatures rise with the progression of modern climate change.

The report issued Friday by the University of Queensland (UQ) used geological records from the Eemian Period, 129,000 to 116,000 years ago, to create a model of what to expect over the next 20-50 years.

"The Eemian Period is the most recent in Earth's history when global temperatures were similar, or possibly slightly warmer than present," UQ Professor Hamish McGowan said.

By analysing the climate during that period, via a process known as paleoclimatology, the team determined the world will likely experience increased water scarcity, reduced winter snow cover, more frequent bushfires and wind erosion.

The team glimpsed back into the past by studying small samples of calcium carbonate powder contained in cave stalagmites, allowing them to identify periods of significantly reduced precipitation during the Eemian Period.

"The 'warmth' of that period was in response to orbital forcing, the effect on climate of slow changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis and shape of the Earth's orbit around the sun," McGowan explained.

"In modern times, heating is being caused by high concentrations of greenhouse gases, though this period is still a good analogue for our current-to-near-future climate predictions."

Historically, mega-droughts have been associated with mass exoduses of people from affected areas and are suspected of contributing to the collapse of several major pre-industrial civilizations across the Americas and Southeast Asia.

"They're alarming findings, in a long list of alarming findings that climate scientists have released over the last few decades," McGowan said.

"We hope that this new research allows for new insights to our future climate and the risks it may bring, such as drought and associated bushfires." Enditem