Skip to content

A quarter of the world could become a Desert – UEA

January 2, 2018

By Paul Homewood

h/t Athelstan

Still Day One, and the Mail is now onto its second junk climate story of 2018:


An increase of just 2°C (3.6°F) in global temperatures could make the world considerably drier and more desert-like, new research has warned.

More than a quarter of the world’s land surface, home to more than 1.5 billion people, would become more arid and droughts and wildfires could be widespread.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) would dramatically reduce the percentage of the Earth’s surface affected, scientists found.

Aridity is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained from combining precipitation and evaporation. 

‘Aridification would emerge over 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s land surface by the time the global temperature change reaches 2ºC (3.6ºF)’, said Dr Manoj Joshi from the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences and one of the study’s co-authors. 

The research team studied projections from 27 global climate models and identified areas of the world where aridity will substantially change.

The areas most affected areas are parts of South East Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa, Central America and Southern Australia.

These areas are home to more than 20 per cent of the world’s population – that’s over 1.5 billion people.

The study looked at the current rate of  global temperature increase and compared it to data from before the industrial revolution

The world has already warmed by 1°C (1.8°F) since then. 

The most affected areas are likely to be parts of South East Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa, Central America and Southern Australia. These areas are home to more than 20 per cent of the world's population - that's over 1.5 billion people

The most affected areas are likely to be parts of South East Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa, Central America and Southern Australia. These areas are home to more than 20 per cent of the world’s population – that’s over 1.5 billion people

Read the full article here.

It is probably no coincidence that it is the UEA which has planted this junk science scare story, hot on the heels of the earlier NOAA one.

But in fact many other studies have found that, despite a warmer climate since the 19thC, global drought is not getting worse.

For instance, McCabe and Wolock found in their 2015 paper, Variability and trends in global drought:

Monthly precipitation (P) and potential evapotranspiration (PET) from the CRUTS3.1 data set are used to compute monthly P minus PET (PMPE) for the land areas of the globe. The percent of the global land area with annual sums of PMPE less than zero are used as an index of global drought (%drought) for 1901 through 2009. Results indicate that for the past century %drought has not changed, even though global PET and temperature (T) have increased. Although annual global PET and T have increased, annual global P also has increased and has mitigated the effects of increased PET on %drought.


Time series of the percent of global land area with drought conditions (i.e., annual sums of monthly precipitation minus potential evapotranspiration less than zero).

In 2013, Damberg and Kouchak took a closer look at the last three decades, using satellite observations. They found:

The results reveal no significant trend in the areas under drought over land in the past three decades.

The global trend maps indicate that central Africa, parts of southwest Asia (e.g., Thailand, Taiwan), Central America, northern Australia, and parts of eastern Europe show a wetting trend during the same time span. The results of this satellite-based study disagree with several model-based studies which indicate that droughts have been increasing over land. On the other hand, our findings concur with some of the observation-based studies.

Note that these are the very same areas now claimed by the UEA to be getting drier.

Note also that, whereas the UEA is all climate model based, real observations show the opposite.

And in 2012, Justin Sheffield et al published a paper, Little change in global drought over the past 60 years, whose title says it all.

Significantly, they showed that model based assessments of drought, using PDSI, overestimated potential evaporation, and therefore drought, by not taking into account underlying physical principles, such as changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed.

And as we already know, rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have significantly greened much of the planet in the last 35 years.

 globe of Earth from North Pole perspective

And as HH Lamb repeatedly pointed out, it is a colder world that we need to fear, because the equatorial rain systems are squeezed closer to the equator, something that led to the calamitous Sahel droughts and Indian monsoon failures of the 1960s and 70s.

We can safely file this story under J – For Junk!

    1. hivemind permalink
      January 2, 2018 12:46 pm

      I can’t for the life of me think why they reckon the bottom of Australia would become unlivable.

      • January 2, 2018 2:54 pm

        It’s because projections from 27 global climate models say so. The fact that all 27 climate models give the wrong results is irrelevant when you are saving the planet and when your funding is dependent on how scary your results are.

      • manicbeancounter permalink
        January 2, 2018 10:21 pm

        The reason for the prophesy is likely the severe drought that broke at the beginning of 2012.
        Compare Al Gore’s 2006 graphic of 20th century increases in precipitation (large blue dots are 30%+ increases) with the UEA graphic.

        The UEA is out of date with their prophecies. The massive Lake Eildon water levels show the picture.

        Other lakes in Victoria have a similar picture. Up until 2012, you might forecast that the reservoirs would never be properly full again. Now, in the heat of the Australian summer, they are at 75% capacity. That is, not so full as to be unable to prevent flooding in case of severe rainfall, but not so empty as to sustain a long drought.

    2. January 2, 2018 12:55 pm

      Paul : missing graphic “figure 1”
      Wiley probably don’t allow it to show up on third party sites
      I uploaded a copy of the slide to my website if you want to use that URL

    3. Gamecock permalink
      January 2, 2018 1:25 pm

      Remember this the next time the BBC shows Sir David Attenborough telling us how great deserts are.

    4. Athelstan permalink
      January 2, 2018 1:27 pm

      “Note also that, whereas the UEA is all climate model based, real observations show the opposite.”

      Good Lord – no comment needed really – is there?

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 2, 2018 1:45 pm

        Other than welcome to the World of Climate Science Fiction.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        January 2, 2018 3:32 pm

        I’m intrigued by the idea that satellite observations are less reliable than model studies which tell us what has happened! Who you gonna believe; my supercomputer or your lyin’ eyes?

        You’d be hard pressed to make it up! Note I didn’t say you *couldn’t* make it up because some eejit obviously has!

        • Athelstan permalink
          January 2, 2018 11:56 pm

          Yessum, they name Oxford the city of churches and of ‘dreaming spires’ can we name Norwich Uni as, one spire among the virtual church of delusion?

      • manicbeancounter permalink
        January 2, 2018 10:40 pm

        An example of showing the opposite to “real observations” is in North Africa. Nobel Laureate and former VPotus Al Gore in his book of the film, showed that some of the biggest global increases in aridity in the 20th Century were around the Sahara, when over a third of the rsie to 2C level of dangerous global warming was supposed to have occurred. In parts of West Africa and Ethiopia precipitation was supposed to have decreased by up to 50%. Yet no such issue in the reaching the 2C warming which should be arrived at in less than 20 years. (the maths is that 1000 GtCO2e of emissions from Jan 2012 is sufficient to reach 2C of warming, and emissions are just over 50 GtCO2e a year.

        More detail (including how “Africagate” in AR4 is involved) at

    5. January 2, 2018 1:44 pm

      Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

    6. January 2, 2018 1:54 pm

      University of Easy Access – say no more. Could the article have come from their Creative Writing Department?

    7. Broadlands permalink
      January 2, 2018 2:24 pm

      “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) would dramatically reduce the percentage of the Earth’s surface affected, scientists found.”

      Have the “scientists” (and the politicians they influence) told us how we limit that from happening? How long it will take? How much it will cost? Creative accounting.

    8. January 2, 2018 3:17 pm

      Tip : Eon are making big claims that by buying a solar battery with your solar , you make a gain
      I calculate not, cos by storing it you lose the premium you get for selling the electric to the grid, never mind the waste.

      • January 2, 2018 3:19 pm

        Their tweet

        • January 2, 2018 3:19 pm

          Click the Dec 8 bit, to pull up the full tweet with video

      • Bloke down the pub permalink
        January 3, 2018 9:16 am

        Incorrect Stew. The feed in tariff is based on the amount of electricity you generate, regardless of whether you use it yourself, or export it to the grid. There is a supplementary export allowance which is based on how much you export but this can either be metered separately, or taken to be 50% of what you generate.

    9. January 2, 2018 3:52 pm

      ‘A quarter of the world could become a Desert if’…blah blah. Could…if…

      You could get frostbite if you tried to cross the Antarctic in beachwear.

      • tux1952 permalink
        January 2, 2018 7:59 pm

        You could get frostbite if you tried to cross Manchester in beachwear at the moment…

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 3, 2018 1:53 pm

        But you will be fine in the Arctic because it is super warm up there so the experts says and all that nasty cold has gone to Canada and the USA and long term cold records take a pounding and snow is forecast for Florida.

    10. John Peter permalink
      January 2, 2018 3:54 pm

      Climate models have all eventualities covered.
      It’s going to be both wetter and drier so they can’t be wrong. Either way they are right and even if precipitation remains unchanged they are still right, because deducting the one from the other provides a big ZERO. We ‘deniers’ are left completely baffled at the elegance of pronouncements coming out of these grand international constellations of renowned climate scientists.

      • Paddy permalink
        January 3, 2018 7:23 am

        Climate + scientist same as witch + doctor.

    11. Frank permalink
      January 2, 2018 4:57 pm

      I would suspect actually a larger area than that would dry out seriously if we cooled 2 degrees C globally.

    12. Jack Broughton permalink
      January 2, 2018 5:01 pm

      The terms “robust models, scientists say and climate change” are all reliable signs of lies and spin. What a brilliant PR machine they have though!

    13. Steve borodin permalink
      January 2, 2018 8:21 pm

      is the Mail going downmarket to attract readers from the Gruniad?

    14. fretslider permalink
      January 3, 2018 12:42 am

      A quarter of the world could become a Desert – UEA

      And yet…

      Global warming will increase rainfall in some of the world’s driest areas over land, with not only the wet getting wetter but the dry getting wetter as well.

      Someone flip a coin

    15. January 3, 2018 12:46 am

      Tip : It’s been a super windy day so BBC’s business correspondent Joe Lynam has deviously or naively tweeted hey wow Wind’s been at 20% for 24 hours

      • January 3, 2018 12:52 am

        That was hyped on Radio Humberside at the same time they were hyping the Dogger Bank ISLAND wind power international distribution hub idea (direct audio)
        .. “Will help cut fossil fuel use”,
        .. Why did the BBC run this TODAY when most media ran with it in March 2017 ?
        … ah cos the Guardian ran it on Dec 29th 2017
        ..and that’s the BBC’s definition of a source.
        (The actual Dutch corp’s website had the story in June 2016)
        Of course as usual it’s a totally UNGREEN subsidy scam, just imagine after they ship all the concrete there to START in 2030 and get operational about 2040 what the Carbon Footprint will be ..and by then new power like mini-nuke or fusion will be on the horizon. Never mind the cable losses sending it so far.
        Yet TenneT, claim it’s all about Paris Climate agreement and “Will help cut fossil fuel use”,

    16. Bloke down the pub permalink
      January 3, 2018 9:18 am

      No mention of the fact that increased CO₂ levels lead to smaller plant stomata helping in the retention of water.

    17. Ben Vorlich permalink
      January 3, 2018 10:04 am

      Just a thought, today the worlds two largest deserts are the Antarctic Desert, 5.5 million sq miles and the Arctic Desert at 5.4 million sq miles. The Sahara, the largest sand desert is a measly 3.6 million sq miles. In fact the top 10 sand deserts are only slightly larger in area than the Antarctic Desert. In the climate as it exists today more land is uninhabitable due to cold that due to drought.

    18. dennisambler permalink
      January 3, 2018 11:08 am

      He spent a lot of time studying Mars….

      “I mostly do computer modelling and theory of physical processes underlying climate and climate change.”

      Says it all, torturing the data until it confesses, yet again.

      • Athelstan permalink
        January 3, 2018 12:10 pm

        From your link dennisambler:

        “I also spent a year as a scientist at the SETI institute (doing more research on planetary climates – not hunting for aliens)”

        “not hunting for aliens”

        subtext, ‘I don’t want to be thought of as a complete and utter screaming loony’ ………….

        Alack, if nothing else………… isn’t that what SETI is all about?

        I can see the pattern, and maybe it’s time for him to contact ground control – if only for a reset.

    19. Joe Public permalink
      January 3, 2018 4:54 pm

      Newsweek’s take on the story:

      “The study, which was published on Monday, claims that if the Earth’s average yearly temperature is raised by 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) “ [My bold]

    20. Coeur de Lion permalink
      January 3, 2018 6:44 pm

      Since Climategate, UAE is irremediably damaged and can be ignored.

    21. January 4, 2018 9:22 pm

      So I guess all those peer reviewed studies utilizing AVHRR satellite data which conclude the earth has greened by at least 11% since 1981 quite likely largely due to increased atmospheric CO2… are bogus. It didn’t happen, and will increasingly not happen.

    Comments are closed.

    %d bloggers like this: