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“Climate change could shrink tropical rainforest belt,” says new research

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2020. 10:19 am CST.

By BBN Staff: A new research conducted by the University of New Mexico in the United States says that climate change could severely reduce the size of a tropical rainfall belt near the equator, which would negatively impact the lives of billions of people.

According to a press release issued by the University of Northumbria, the scientists studied the rainfall patterns within the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), by analyzing a stalagmite recovered from a cave in Belize and found rainfall data going back 1,600 years.

The research suggests that ITCZ expands in a cooler climate but contracts as the climate gets warmer. The resulting contraction puts areas of the northern tropics, like Central America, in danger of seeing dire conditions from the lack of rain including crop failure and famine.

“The resulting droughts could lead to social unrest and mass migration from affected regions, including Central America and sub-Saharan Africa,” the release said.

The release noted that Belize is currently in a state of drought and that research suggests future warming will increase the likelihood and frequency of future droughts.

Professor James Baldini, co-author of the study, said “Our conclusions have major implications for the future. We now know that a wet season has only characterized the region over the past 500 years or so. Furthermore, unfortunately, our results suggest that this phase of abundant summer rain may be coming to an end. This is a staggeringly worrying result, and it is likely that large populations in the tropics will be affected by drought in the future.”

The findings have been published in the journal Science Advances.

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