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From June 20th to 29th, the Seventieth Session of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Executive Council (EC-70) took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Chang-Eui Park, Research Assistant Professor of SUSTech’s Environmental Science and Engineering Department, received the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists for his publication on Nature Climate Change as the first author. The title of the publication is ‘Keeping Global Warming within 1.5°C Constrains Emergence of Aridification.’
The academic paper indicated that the world has already warmed by 1°C and that over a quarter of the world’s land could become significantly drier if global warming reaches 2°C. The change would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires. But by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5°C or 2°C, it could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world.
Dr. Chang-Eui Park and his colleagues explained the concept of aridity, which is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained by combining measurements of precipitation and evaporation. It is usually defined by the aridity index, which is the ratio of the average annual precipitation to potential evapotranspiration (P/PET). If the aridity index is less than 0.65, a region is classified as ‘dry land.’
Aridification is a serious threat as it can critically impact matters such as agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity. Another way of thinking of the emergence of aridification is a shift to continuous moderate drought conditions, on top of which future year-on-year variability can cause more severe drought. For instance, in such a scenario 15% of semi-arid regions would actually experience conditions similar to ‘arid’ climates today.
Dr. Park’s team has also found that drought severity has been increasing across the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and the east coast of Australia over the course of the 20th Century, while semi-arid areas of Mexico, Brazil, southern Africa and Australia have encountered desertification for some time as the world has warmed. Ultimately, Park’s study significantly helps researchers and the public to better understand the potential impacts of aridification on human society.
About WMO Executive Council:
The World Meteorological Congress is the supreme body of WMO. One of the Congress’ components is the Executive Council, which implements the Congress’ decisions. The Executive Council coordinates programs, manages the budget, considers and acts on resolutions and recommendations from the regional associations and technical commissions, and studies and makes recommendations on matters affecting international meteorology and related activities. The Executive Council normally hold a session at least once a year.
About WMO Research Award for Young Scientists:
The World Meteorological Congress established the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists for outstanding scientific research work in the field of meteorology in 1967. They have been granting the Award annually since 1970. The aim of this Award is to encourage young scientists, particularly in developing countries, to undertake outstanding research work in all fields of meteorology and hydrology. The award has been granted to young scientists from more than 20 different countries.
Dr. Park’s article link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0034-4
Original Article: Department of Environmental Science and Engineering,
World Meteorological Organization, Chang-Eui Park, Su-Jung Jeong et al.
Translation & Adaptation: Fan Yining
Proofreading: Chris Edwards