PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Drought in the Sahel

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Science  07 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5647, pp. 999-1000
DOI: 10.1126/science.1090849

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Since the 1960s, the semi-arid Sahel region in Africa has experienced a severe drought. In his Perspective, Zeng analyzes the possible causes of this drought. He highlights the report of Giannini et al., whose model study suggests that changes in worldwide sea surface temperatures have played a key role in the Sahel drought. Natural vegetation processes and land use change probably reinforced the oceanic changes to produce the unusual drought. The relative magnitudes of natural and anthropogenic influences on Sahel climate remain to be quantified. If the trend in global sea surface temperature is related to anthropogenic global warming, the Sahel may be a harbinger of global changes.