Chinese experts have identified the root reasons of the growing agricultural drought in Central Asia.

Chinese experts have identified the root reasons of the growing agricultural drought in Central Asia.

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  • February 7, 2023
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Chinese scientists have discovered that over the past three decades, droughts in southern Central Asia’s early growing season have become more severe due to a combination of anthropogenic external forcing and the climate system’s inherent internal variability.

The recent publication of the paper in the journal Nature Geoscience.

According to Jiang Jie, the study’s first author and a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Agricultural drought refers to soil moisture deficits, which is closely related to meteorological factor changes and typically happens after meteorological drought.”

In this study, “the anthropogenic external forcing” mostly refers to the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations, according to Jiang. Continuous greenhouse gas emissions have caused Central Asia to rapidly warm, which has further increased evapotranspiration and decreased soil moisture in this region.

The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), or long-term oscillation of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, waxes and wanes every 20 to 30 years, according to Jiang, is a significant natural variability that affects Central Asian droughts. Southern Central Asia experienced less springtime precipitation as a result of the current IPO cycle since the 1990s, which also caused a drop in soil moisture during the early growing season.

According to Jiang, “both human-induced warming and the IPO-dominated decline in spring rainfall contributed to soil moisture deficits over southern Central Asia, and ultimately the worsened agricultural droughts in the past three decades.”

The scientists also predicted that the droughts in Central Asia Chinese would get worse this century, primarily due to warming caused by human activity. Even if the IPO enters a warm phase that is conducive to higher precipitation over the following few decades, it would still struggle to stop droughts from getting worse.

“The IPO may control the drying pace in the near Chinese term, but it could not offset the human-induced drying trend over Central Asia,” said Zhou Tianjun, the study’s co-corresponding author and an IAP researcher.

The results show that policymakers in this climate-sensitive region must take into account the interaction between anthropogenic forcing and the natural variability of the IPO, Zhou noted.

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