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Quarter of world's land will be drier under 2ºC warming: Study

This photo taken on October 27, 2016, shows a man walking through a dried out area near Morocco's southeastern oasis town of Erfoud in the Sahara Desert. (Photo by AFP)

Climate researchers have warned that more than 25 percent of Earth's land surface will become "significantly" drier if global warming reaches two degrees Celsius.

The warning was made in a study conducted by an international team, including the University of East Anglia, and published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

The research findings said the change in world temperature would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires if the goals of the Paris climate change accord were not met.

The agreement calls for countries to reduce greenhouse gases from fossil fuel use to keep the world temperature from reaching 2 degrees Celsius.

The team found that at that temperature, which could arrive any time between 2052 and 2070, some 24 to 32 percent of the total land surface would become drier and be affected by “aridification,” or the drying of the planet.

“Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 percent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2ºC," said Manoj Joshi, lead researcher from the University of East Anglia in the UK. "But two-thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5ºC.”

This September 17, 2015 photo shows boat docks sitting empty on dry land as the severe drought continues in California. (By AFP)

Much of Central America, Southern Europe, Southern Africa and Southern Australia as well as much of Southeast Asia, would be hurt by an increasingly dry planet, according to the study.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016 and has been signed by 197 countries, of which 172 have now formally ratified it.

US President Donald Trump said in June 2017 that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, a year after his predecessor Barack Obama signed it.

Trump had labeled climate change a "hoax," defying widening international support for the agreement aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump’s administration has labeled the Paris agreement as too protective for China and other emerging powers.

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