Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Global warming 37 percent to blame for droughts: scientist

A man walks past a cement factory on the outskirts of Baokang, Hubei province February 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer 

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Global warming is more than a third to blame for a major drop in rainfall that includes a decade-long drought in Australia and a lengthy dry spell in the United States, a scientist said on Wednesday.

Peter Baines of Melbourne University in Australia analyzed global rainfall observations, sea surface temperature data as well as a reconstruction of how the atmosphere has behaved over the past 50 years to reveal rainfall winners and losers.

What he found was an underlying trend where rainfall over the past 15 years or so has been steadily decreasing, with global warming 37 percent responsible for the drop.

"The 37 percent is probably going to increase if global warming continues," Baines told Reuters from Perth in Western Australia, where he presented his findings at a major climate change conference.

Baines' analysis revealed four regions where rainfall has been declining. The affected areas were the continental United States, southeastern Australia, a large region of equatorial Africa and the Altiplano in South America.

But there were two areas in the tropics where rainfall has been increasing -- northwestern Australia and the Amazon Basin. …

Global warming 37 percent to blame for droughts: scientist

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