As melting Greenland glaciers continue to pour ice into the Arctic Ocean, we have more than the rising seas to worry about, scientists say. A new study suggests that if it gets large enough, the influx of freshwater from the melting ice sheet could disrupt the flow of a major ocean current system, which in turn could dry out Africa’s Sahel, a narrow region of land stretching from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east.
|A NASA photo shows the Heimdal Glacier in |
southern Greenland, captured Oct. 13, 2015.
The consequence could be devastating agricultural losses as the area’s climate shifts. And in the most severe scenarios, tens of millions of people could be forced to migrate from the area.
“The implications, when expressed in terms of vulnerability of the population in the region are really dramatic and bring home just how sensitive livelihoods are in this region to climatic change,” said Christopher Taylor, a meteorologist at the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom and an expert on the West African climate, who was not involved with the new research.
Read Chelsea Harvey’s story on The Washington Post - “A climate chain reaction: Major Greenland melting could devastate crops in Africa.”