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The Sahara Is Growing (Even Though It’s Wetter & Greener!)

April 2, 2018
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By Paul Homewood




Global warming is causing the Sahara desert to grow, new research suggests.

Scientists have found that the world’s largest desert has expanded by more than ten per cent over the last 100 years.

The study suggests the rest of the world’s deserts could be expanding too as widespread climate change continues to heat up the planet.


Meanwhile, back in the real world:


Satellite data shows the per cent amount that foliage cover has changed around the world from 1982 to 2010.

Credit: Image courtesy of CSIRO Australia







Desertification, drought, and despair—that’s what global warming has in store for much of Africa. Or so we hear.

Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent.

Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall.

If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities.

This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago.

Green Shoots

The green shoots of recovery are showing up on satellite images of regions including the Sahel, a semi-desert zone bordering the Sahara to the south that stretches some 2,400 miles (3,860 kilometers).

Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences.

The study suggests huge increases in vegetation in areas including central Chad and western Sudan.

The transition may be occurring because hotter air has more capacity to hold moisture, which in turn creates more rain, said Martin Claussen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, who was not involved in the new study.

"The water-holding capacity of the air is the main driving force," Claussen said.

While satellite images can’t distinguish temporary plants like grasses that come and go with the rains, ground surveys suggest recent vegetation change is firmly rooted. In the eastern Sahara area of southwestern Egypt and northern Sudan, new trees—such as acacias—are flourishing, according to Stefan Kröpelin, a climate scientist at the University of Cologne’s Africa Research Unit in Germany.

"Shrubs are coming up and growing into big shrubs. This is completely different from having a bit more tiny grass," said Kröpelin, who has studied the region for two decades.

In 2008 Kröpelin—not involved in the new satellite research—visited Western Sahara, a disputed territory controlled by Morocco.

"The nomads there told me there was never as much rainfall as in the past few years," Kröpelin said. "They have never seen so much grazing land."

"Before, there was not a single scorpion, not a single blade of grass," he said.

"Now you have people grazing their camels in areas which may not have been used for hundreds or even thousands of years. You see birds, ostriches, gazelles coming back, even sorts of amphibians coming back," he said.

"The trend has continued for more than 20 years. It is indisputable."



Back in 1973, HH Lamb knew that the Sahel drought then was due to global cooling:








And scientists believe that future warming will continue to re-green the Sahel:




So how did the authors of this new paper come to their conclusion? This is what their news release says:

To single out the effects of human-caused climate change, the researchers used statistical methods to remove the effects of the AMO and PDO on rainfall variability during the period from 1920 to 2013.

Ah, good old “statistical methods”!

  1. John Palmer permalink
    April 2, 2018 11:24 am

    There you have it, then….
    There’s lies, damned lies and …(climate alarmist) statistics!

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    April 2, 2018 11:45 am

    It’s so sad that even right of centre papers like the Mail (and the Telegraph is no better) feel the need to publish this sort of hysterical rubbish.
    Research time and money would have been far better spent analysing how much of this (real, not modelled) greening has been due to what regional warming we have had (if any), how much due to the effects of periodic cycles like the AMO, and how much due to the increase in CO2.
    Assuming that the research and analysis was carried out properly, that would be a report worth reading.

  3. Bloke down the pub permalink
    April 2, 2018 1:01 pm

    To single out the effects of human-caused climate change, the researchers used statistical methods to remove the effects of the AMO and PDO on rainfall variability during the period from 1920 to 2013.

    Which presumably means that they must have decided beforehand how much influence man has had on rainfall, otherwise why not attribute all of the variability to the AMO and PDO?

  4. John Cooknell permalink
    April 2, 2018 1:52 pm

    My understanding is the same statistical methods were used by the tailor of the Kings new clothes.

  5. BLACK PEARL permalink
    April 2, 2018 1:54 pm

    Does someone commission these ‘studies’ ?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      April 2, 2018 8:10 pm

      I wasn’t so much thinking who commissions the studies as who pays for the reportage in the the Mail. Especially as it comes at a time when certain blogs are pointing out he real reasons for the loss of water in the regions.

  6. Coeur de Lion permalink
    April 2, 2018 2:24 pm

    Now we want coal fired power stations so that the people don’t hack down the newly greened ‘biomass’ for fuel and lung disease

  7. bobn permalink
    April 2, 2018 2:25 pm

    Ahh statistics – the antithesis of science.
    Using data from NOAA fisheries service and US energy Admin we see there is a 91% correlation between the supply of canned tuna in the USA and the level of CO2 emissions in Canada. Therefore if we all stop eating canned tuna we will reduce CO2 emissions! Must be true since statistics show the correlation!
    Statistics also show a 90.9% correlation between US nuclear power generation and the US pregnancy rate. So if we reduce nuclear power generation we will effect birth control! Must be true because statistics show the correlation!
    There is a 91.6% correlation between Ben Affleck appearing in films and US accidental poisoning by pesticides. So if we end Ben’s film career we can save alot of lives. Must be true because statistics show the correlation!
    Statistics are merely tools that may indicate, but PROVE NOTHING!
    Satistics from Tyler Viglen’s book ‘Spurious Correlations’.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      April 2, 2018 8:14 pm

      I remember my very first statistics lesson (A-level) back in ’72 and the lecturer telling us that, statistically speaking, the incidence of lung cancer was directly attributable to to amount of horse manure created. (A metaphor that worked in so many different ways – and which is applicable today).

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    April 2, 2018 2:49 pm

    Couldn’t help but notice in the article comments from the graduate student who is the lead author. There you go.

  9. bobn permalink
    April 2, 2018 3:00 pm

    Just went to Mail online to read the comments. (yes the Mail allows comments unlike BBC and other non-news sites that dont want criticism of their prejudices). Hearteningly, the vast majority of comments say the article is crap and disagree with the warmist doctrine. So about 97% of Mail readers seem to say Al Gore & his AGW is rubbish. Great to see – but thats only a statistic of course!
    Yet again we see that readers of main stream media are far smarter than writers of MSM.

  10. Phoenix44 permalink
    April 2, 2018 3:11 pm

    I had to go back and re-read the headline to understand where the problem lay – either the Sahara is growing or it is not. But of course they say “over the last century”.

    So that’s is probably true, but as it is easy to show, that is because of a long decline in rainfall associated with cooling, not warming. And as we now see, the additional CO2 and warmth are causing the Sahara to shrink, not grow.

    So this “science” is “right” but also totally wrong.

  11. alexei permalink
    April 2, 2018 3:57 pm

    @Phoenix — Exactly my thoughts. Surely more greening, less desert? The absence of logic is stupefying…..

  12. alexei permalink
    April 2, 2018 4:17 pm

    Mea culpa – I jumped too soon to the conclusion that the “Greening” info was available to the readers of the DM.

  13. April 2, 2018 4:24 pm

    Plants take in CO2 through their stoma, but when they do they lose water vapour, which needs replacing from the soil. With slight increases in global CO2 in the air, plants open their stoma less often for the same CO2 intake, which results in them losing less water vapour. This enables the plants to grow successfully in drier areas which helps to explain the greening of the Sahara.

    • AngryManxy permalink
      April 3, 2018 7:39 am

      And since WV is a much more potent greenhouse gas, good news all round!

  14. 2hmp permalink
    April 2, 2018 4:35 pm

    Whilst Government Organisations are prepared to fund these ridiculous papers, the nonsense will not end.

  15. Athelstan permalink
    April 2, 2018 6:49 pm

    Mr. Phil Bratby is indeed a very much a better investigator than yours truly.

    However, just a glance at, the ‘journal of climate’ is the house mag’ of the American Meteorological Soc’ and behind them are NOAA, NASA, Lockheed, National Science Foundation and name themselves a private/public partnership – whatev.

    In normal speak, ie just another layer of paper clip counters pretending to be scientists (lots of letters but bugger all common sense) and algorithms to the FORE = prognostication of some extraordinary wrong headedness, climastrology groupthink – and Africans damming the major river systems – has nowt to do wiv it – yeah! Oh yeah! it IS to some extent – very man made and drying up major river basin ecosystems through ill thought through dams. Thus, ‘MAN MADE’ but NOT, I repeat NOT as they (American Met Soc, NOAA, NASA) – like to project it.

    ‘Our results are specific to the Sahara, but they likely have implications for the world’s other deserts

    Dear Professor Sumant Nigam, needs to do a quick course in the English Language, ‘sprecifically’ either or, we remain very confused.

    The editorial of the Mail should be all made to walk the plank for printing that specious statistical jiggerpokery and, arrant load of bletheration, the whole shebang of very nice graphics but good gawd, it really is fifth form standard.

    “Does someone commission these ‘studies’ ?” (asked BLACK PEARL) – though, I’m pretty sure that it was a rhetorical quip.

    It is rather hard to believe that, the incumbent president Mr. Donald J Trump would have allowed this sort of research ah um claptrap to be commissioned.

    Whereas, Barry O’barmy on the other hand was in the pocket of the globalists and Archimandrites devoted to the great green genies – if I were a betting soul. Though, the provenance of this article would be hard to pinpoint and as I’ve already alluded, there is a gordian-esque knot of these green advocating bandits and probably UN, EU, NGOs at the back of it too,

    Indeed, Geopolitically speaking, “The Sahara Is Growing”, it’s a begging letter in all but name and the dark shadows appear out of the lobbying murk; Oxfam, Save the Children – UNESCO? the clinton foundation? soros’s international rescue?…………it’s a big swamp.
    “swamp”!! ooh please, please excuse the irony of that because all of this crap – is not a joking matter and in the aftermath of the sex scandals and wllfull perfidy, peculation, egregious wastefulness and boys club chuminess. Muse on this, is this sort of article the commencement of the charidees “third sector” fight back for, the hearts and minds of the UK public?

    Now, if, I was a cynic, I guess I’d say yes to that, yes very much indeed.

  16. April 2, 2018 8:10 pm

    Oh, BTW, that whole “no fat/low fat” thing we scientists perpetuated for 40 years, that was actually killing you.
    So sorry, gotta go now.

  17. dennisambler permalink
    April 2, 2018 11:01 pm

    The lead author looks to be just out of school:

    Nigam is her adviser and a co-author.

    This is the latest trick as the climate cuckoos leave their nests. A post grad student writes a paper under the guidance of an agenda scientist who is also a named author for “credibility” and a new name hits the science journals. Potsdam is particularly good at this. A recent paper from a young scientist, at Potsdam, is promoting CCS.

    “New research suggests that unless we rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions we will have to extract far more CO2 from the atmosphere than we are technically prepared for.

    Jessica Streffler got her PhD at Potsdam in 2015. Her dissertation?

    “Challenges for low stabilization of climate change: The complementarity of non-CO2 greenhouse gas and aerosol abatement to CO2 emission reductions”

    Her supervisor was Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at Potsdam, not a physcist, climate sciemtist or even a scientist, just a powerful activist. They wind them up and send them out for new “scientists say” articles for a scare-hungry media.

    It is common to recycle the same stuff under different lead authors, slightly altered, citing the other paper. By changing the lead author you get the same subject cited more times and thus add to the “consensus”.

    I seem to remember Phil Jones and Co pontificating in the CRU e-mails as to who should be the lead author for a particular paper.

  18. dennisambler permalink
    April 2, 2018 11:10 pm

    African Sahel – The bigger picture:

    “Long term perspectives and future prospects”, Nick Brooks, Saharan Studies Programme and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia 2004

    “Long-term climatic and environmental change in the Sahel is associated with variations in the strength and position of the African Monsoon. At the last glacial maximum (LGM) some 21 thousand years ago (ka), the Sahara desert covered a much larger area than at present,
    as apparent from the dating of fossil dunes some 5° south of the present extent of mobile dunes (Talbot, 1983).”

    “Over the past 1.65 million years, approximately corresponding to the Quaternary period, there have been some seventeen glacial cycles, each lasting approximately 100ka (Goudie, 1992). Evidence from lake sediments in the central and southern Sahara indicates a succession of arid and humid episodes broadly coincident with glacial and interglacial periods respectively (Kowalski et al., 1989; Szabo et al., 1995; Cremaschi, 1998; Martini et al., 1998).”

    “On multi-millennial timescales, shorter than those represented by the 100ka glacial cycles, monsoon dynamics are modulated by the Earth’s 21ka precessional cycle, which determines the angle at which the Earth’s axis is inclined to the plane of the ecliptic (the plane in which the planets orbit the sun) (Kukla and Gavin, 2004).”

    The 21ka and 100ka cycles interact, and an increase in boreal summer insolation is believed to have contributed to the process of deglaciation after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (Goudie, 1992).

    By around 10ka, maximum inclination had been reached, resulting in an increase in incident solar radiation at the Earth’s surface associated with intensified monsoon activity throughout the northern hemisphere subtropics (Tuenter et al., 2003).”

    The angle of inclination of the Earth’s axis is of course heavily influenced by the amount of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.

  19. tom0mason permalink
    April 4, 2018 3:46 am

    I note that Saudi Arabia got some more snow…
    I welcome them to a global warming ‘hole’. ☺ 😁

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