Effects of extreme heat & drought will affect 90% of population

A new study by the Oxford School of Geography said that more than 90% of the world’s population is projected to face increased risks due to the combined impacts of extreme heat and drought.

Extreme heat & drought effects

Most people know that global warming brings with it increasingly extreme temperatures or impacts on all of the world’s ecosystems. Extreme heat and drought are two of the effects that are most often seen in the news or reports when talking about climate change.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, found that extreme drought events will increase tenfold in the scenario with higher polluting gas emissions by the end of this century. This, in turn, would affect the availability of water globally.

This effect would not only have a negative impact on the vegetation or terrestrial carbon sinks (which we will talk about later) but, together with the high temperatures, would affect more than 90% of the world population, with more serious impacts in the most vulnerable areas (with fewer resources and rural areas, for example).

Drought will increase polluting gas emissions

The joint effects of extreme heat and drought will have a much greater effect than looking at these two phenomena separately, the study authors concluded. They added that another important factor is that composite drought and heat wave (CDHW) events will also affect the performance of social and ecosystem systems, which would end up impacting gross domestic product (GDP).

“By combining satellite observations, field measurements, and reanalysis, we show that terrestrial water storage and temperature are negatively coupled, probably driven by similar atmospheric conditions (for example, water vapour deficit and energy demand),” the researchers noted in the study.

Extreme drought events will increase tenfold in the scenario with the highest polluting gas emissions, by the end of this century, according to a study published in Nature Sustainability. This, in turn, will affect the availability of water worldwide, which will represent greater risks for more than 90% of the population.

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Dangers of warming Earth

Jiabo Yin, one of the authors of the new study and a researcher at Wuhan University, explained in a statement that they used “grand model” simulations and a new carbon budget dataset created by machine learning, to quantify “the response of ecosystem productivity to global thermal and water stress factors”.

In addition to this, Yin said that limited water availability will affect the ability of “carbon sinks” to absorb carbon emissions and emit oxygen. Carbon sinks are natural regions or systems, such as oceans or trees, that can capture carbon and store it. For this reason, they are one of the keys to the mitigation of polluting gases.

“Understanding the compounding dangers of a warming Earth is essential for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 13, which aims to combat climate change and its effects. By combining atmospheric dynamics and hydrology, we explore the role of water and energy budgets in causing these extremes,” said Louise Slater, co-author of the study and a professor at Oxford University.

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