Science

Sahara Was Once Tropical And Then This Happened

By Rodney Rafols , Nov 30, 2016 10:20 PM EST
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The Earth was a different place as recently as 6,000 years ago. That was the time scientists say the Sahara was still a tropical place. Now many see the Sahara as a desert. The Sahara was once tropical. Scientists say that something changed it, and want to find out when and how then this happened.

The Sahara was once covered with much grass and vegetation. It also had much rainfall. That was as recently as 6,000 years ago, which when compared to the Earth's time scale would be a fairly recent event. However, shifting weather patterns then turned the Sahara into the desert as seen now.

Robert Korty, a researcher and associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M together with William Boos of Yale University is trying to find out what caused the Sahara to become a desert. Using computer models, they have found that the Sahara might have become a desert because of a change in rainfall patterns.

The two researchers have focused on the Hadley circulation, which is a circulation linked to the trade winds and tropical rain belts. The Hadley circulation affects storms and hurricanes, according to Texas A&M Today. The Hadley circulation is located at the Earth's equator. In the past, this circulation likely moved, which caused rainfall to shift away from the Sahara.

Korty said that they are still trying to find out why the Hadley circulation moved. Parts of the circulation can move, while most of it would remain constant, as Science Daily reports. This is still a mystery to most scientists today, as Korty has said. What the study would find could help later studies in predicting rainfall patterns in the world.

As climate change continues to affect the Earth, knowing how the climate has affected regions in the past could help in lessening its effects in the future. Climate change is something that scientists say governments should focus on, as its effects on people could be great. The study shows that the Sahara was once tropical, but scientists want to find out what changed it, and how then this happened. Climate change also affects wildlife population shifts, which could be hard to predict.

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