Global Warming

Climate change will alter the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt

Future climate change will cause a regionally uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt — a narrow band of heavy precipitation near the equator. This development may threaten food security for billions of people.

In a study published today in Nature Climate Change, an interdisciplinary team of environmental engineers, Earth system scientists and data science experts stressed that not all parts of the tropics will be affected equally. For instance, the rain belt will move north in parts of the Eastern Hemisphere but will move south in areas in the Western Hemisphere.

According to the study, a northward shift of the tropical rain belt over the eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean will result in future increases of drought stress in southeastern Africa and Madagascar, in addition to intensified flooding in southern India. A southward creeping of the rain belt over the eastern Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean will cause greater drought stress in Central America.

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