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Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 267-283, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-267-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
19 Mar 2018
Global drought and severe drought-affected populations in 1.5 and 2 °C warmer worlds
Wenbin Liu1, Fubao Sun1,2,3,4, Wee Ho Lim1,5, Jie Zhang1, Hong Wang1, Hideo Shiogama6, and Yuqing Zhang7 1Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
2Ecology Institute of Qilian Mountain, Hexi University, Zhangye, China
3College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
4Center for Water Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
5Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
6Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
7College of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China
Abstract. The 2015 Paris Agreement proposed a more ambitious climate change mitigation target on limiting global warming to 1.5 °C instead of 2 °C above preindustrial levels. Scientific investigations on environmental risks associated with these warming targets are necessary to inform climate policymaking. Based on the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) climate models, we present the first risk-based assessment of changes in global drought and the impact of severe drought on populations from additional 1.5 and 2 °C warming conditions. Our results highlight the risk of drought on a global scale and in several hotspot regions such as the Amazon, northeastern Brazil, southern Africa and Central Europe at both 1.5 and 2 °C global warming relative to the historical period, showing increases in drought durations from 2.9 to 3.2 months. Correspondingly, more total and urban populations would be exposed to severe droughts globally (+132.5 ± 216.2 million and +194.5 ± 276.5 million total population and +350.2 ± 158.8 million and +410.7 ± 213.5 million urban populations in 1.5 and 2 °C warmer worlds) and regionally (e.g., East Africa, West Africa and South Asia). Less rural populations (−217.7 ± 79.2 million and −216.2 ± 82.4 million rural populations in 1.5 and 2 °C warmer worlds) would be exposed to severe drought globally under climate warming, population growth and especially the urbanization-induced population migration. By keeping global warming at 1.5 °C above the preindustrial levels instead of 2 °C, there is a decrease in drought risks (i.e., less drought duration, less drought intensity and severity but relatively more frequent drought) and the affected total, urban and rural populations would decrease globally and in most regions. While challenging for both East Africa and South Asia, the benefits of limiting warming to below 1.5 °C in terms of global drought risk and impact reduction are significant.
Citation: Liu, W., Sun, F., Lim, W. H., Zhang, J., Wang, H., Shiogama, H., and Zhang, Y.: Global drought and severe drought-affected populations in 1.5 and 2 °C warmer worlds, Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 267-283, https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-267-2018, 2018.
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This study is the first risk-based assessment of changes in global drought at 1.5 and 2 °C warmer worlds using CMIP5 models. By keeping the warming at 1.5 °C above the preindustrial levels instead of 2 °C, the risks of drought and the affected total, urban and rural populations would decrease at global and regional scales. While challenging for both East Africa and South Asia, the benefits of limiting warming to below 1.5 °C in terms of global drought risk and impact reduction are significant.
This study is the first risk-based assessment of changes in global drought at 1.5 and 2 °C...
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