Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Climate change killing trees in Sahel

Megan Rowling in AlertNet: Long-term drought linked to climate change is causing trees to die in Africa's Sahel region, south of the Sahara desert, according to a scientific study to be published on Friday.

The research, funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, focused on six countries from Senegal in West Africa to Chad in Central Africa. It found that one in six trees died between 1954 and 2002, and one in five tree species disappeared locally. Indigenous fruit and timber trees that need more moisture were hardest hit by hotter, drier conditions.

In the sites studied, the average temperature warmed by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall declined by up to 48 percent.

"Rainfall in the Sahel has dropped 20 to 30 percent in the 20th century, the world’s most severe long-term drought since measurements from rainfall gauges began in the mid-1800s,” lead author Patrick Gonzalez, who conducted the research while a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.

"Previous research already established climate change as the primary cause of the drought, which has overwhelmed the resilience of the trees."...

A baobab tree on the road to Banjul, Gambia, shot by Atamari, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: