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Researchers find evidence for connection between consistent drought patterns and rising temperatures: 'We finally have a record long enough'

"There's clear agreement between these observations and climate models."

"There's clear agreement between these observations and climate models."

Photo Credit: iStock

Researchers have come to a disturbing conclusion about Madagascar's drought patterns after United Nations officials warned of a growing famine in the country in 2021. 

What's happening?

As detailed by Phys.org, a team from the University of California, Irvine, found that changing global temperatures are directly linked to an ongoing drought in Southern Madagascar.

The findings, published in the Nature Portfolio journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, came after scientists analyzed satellite records over multiple years, including data from as far back as the 1980s. 

"We finally have a record long enough that we can see changes that are attributable to climate change," UC Irvine assistant professor of Earth system science Angela Rigden, the study's lead author, told the online platform. "And there's clear agreement between these observations and climate models that point to changes in seasonality."

Why is this concerning?

The island nation of Madagascar is already vulnerable to extreme weather events, like drought and cyclones, which intensify during the naturally occurring weather phenomenon of El Niño.

Unfortunately, a warming planet has supercharged this regular pattern, leading to even more danger. Rising global temperatures have also caused extreme weather to become more intense and frequent during non-El Niño years. 

"As a result of the climate crisis, we are likely to see it [El Niño] happen more frequently and more intensely," UN El Niño response climate crisis coordinator Reena Ghelani told UN News during a visit to Madagascar. "... And because communities don't have time to recover from the previous impact, they are more vulnerable, and it takes them longer to recover." 

Rigden told Phys.org that, according to UC Irvin's analysis, relief doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

"We could see evidence that climate change is affecting the hydrological cycle in Southern Madagascar, and it's likely going to have big implications for the people that live there and how they grow their food," Rigden said. "Their rainy season is getting shorter, with a delayed onset of those seasons."

Farms in other parts of the world have also grappled with climate-related challenges, with more than 70% reporting to Bayer that their operations have been impacted. 

What can be done about this?

Rigden highlighted the need for adaptation to Phys.org, and many scientists have been developing ways to do just that.  

Some believe that more resilient crops could be part of the solution, and there have been a number of breakthroughs in that regard, from gene-edited strawberries to hybrid proteins to chemical-free pest control.

While speaking with UN News, Ghelani explained that Madagascar has been researching seeds that can survive extended droughts.  

If you're looking for simple ways to reduce harmful pollution contributing to food insecurity, switching to LED light bulbs, unplugging energy vampires, and walking instead of driving when possible can collectively eliminate more than a thousand pounds of carbon annually. 

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