The Sahara Desert got bigger

Climate changes in the last century caused the expansion of the world’s biggest desert, the Sahara. According to a study published on the Journal of Climate the Sahara Desert has grown by 10 percent over the last century due to a combination of natural climate variations and global warming.

The growth of the Sahara has been influenced by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, a natural climate cycle that changes the Atlantic Ocean from warm to cold phases every 60 to 80 years and can impact rainfall patterns across much of Africa. Also global warming may also be altering atmospheric circulation patterns, such as the Hadley cell, which moves air from the Equator to the subtropics, drying it out as it goes and creating many subtropical deserts, including the Sahara.

Researchers estimate that around one third of the Sahara’s expansion is down to climate change caused by human activity. That has implications for those who live in the Sahara as well as the wider world.