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Africa’s Dry Future
By the end of the 21st century, one-quarter of the African continent could be faced with serious shortages of water in perennial lakes and streams, run dry by changes in rainfall caused by global warming.
In Africa, where droughts already occur regularly and people depend on local water sources, climate-driven changes in water supplies “potentially have devastating implications,” say Maarten de Wit and Jacek Stankiewicz in the 3 March 2006 issue of the journal Science. With the help of a large database cataloging all of Africa’s lakes and rivers, along with several climate models for the 21st century, the researchers calculate the loss of water drainage across the continent.
With less rainfall as projected by the climate models, 25 percent of Africa could have significantly less access to surface water by 2100. Some of the places with unstable water supplies that may feel the greatest effects of climate change are highly populated areas in southern Africa, West Africa and parts of the upper Nile region, according to de Wit and Stankiewicz.
3 March 2006