WASHINGTON – Climate change may increase the risk of extreme rainfall in the tropics and drought in the world's temperate zones, according to a new study led by NASA.
"These results in many ways are the worst of all possible worlds," said Peter Gleick, a climatologist and water expert who is president of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland research organization. "Wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier."
The regions that could get the heaviest rainfall are along the equator, mainly over the Pacific Ocean and the Asian tropics. Increased aridity and drought could have a greater effect on human life, however, because those conditions are more likely to occur where most of the world's population lives.
In the Northern Hemisphere, drought-prone areas include the Southwestern United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and northwestern China. In the Southern Hemisphere, drought could become more likely in South Africa, northwestern Australia, coastal Central America and northeastern Brazil.
"Large changes in moderate rainfall, as well as prolonged no-rain events, can have the most impact on society because they occur in regions where most people live," said William Lau, the study's lead author and a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
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