‘It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world’s deserts’ – BBC – July 16, 2009
Excerpt: It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world’s deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places. They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.
The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat. It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect. […] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently that rising global temperatures could cut West African agricultural production by up to 50% by the year 2020. But satellite images from the last 15 years do seem to show a recovery of vegetation in the Southern Sahara, although the Sahel Belt, the semi-arid tropical savannah to the south of the desert, remains fragile.
The fragility of the Sahel may have been exacerbated by the cutting of trees, poor land management and subsequent erosion of soil. […] Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions. “It’s not greening yet. But the desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received by the Earth from the Sun, and this over many thousands of years,” Mr el-Baz told the BBC World Service. “The heating of the Earth would result in more evaporation of the oceans, in turn resulting in more rainfall.”