PHYS ORG: Erratic weather fueled by climate change will worsen locust outbreaks, study finds

PHYS ORG: Erratic weather fueled by climate change will worsen locust outbreaks, study finds
13 March 2024

The study, published in Science Advances, highlights the concerning impact of extreme weather patterns, potentially intensified by human-caused climate change, on desert locust outbreaks. The desert locust, known for its destructive swarms that devastate crops and trigger famine, poses a significant threat to food security in regions across northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Researchers warn that these outbreaks will become increasingly difficult to prevent and control as the climate warms.

Analyzing data from 1985 to 2020, the study identifies 10 countries, including Kenya, Morocco, and Yemen, as the most affected by locust outbreaks. The worst outbreak in 25 years struck East Africa in 2019-2020, underscoring the profound impact on food security and livelihoods. Widespread outbreaks due to climate change pose a substantial threat to affected regions, leading to reduced food production and increased food prices.

The research establishes a strong correlation between the magnitude of locust outbreaks and weather conditions such as temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, and wind. Erratic weather patterns, influenced by phenomena like El Niño, contribute to spurts in vegetation that fuel population growth in locusts. Vulnerable regions like Morocco and Kenya remain at high risk, with locust habitats expanding since 1985 and projected to continue growing.

The study emphasizes the urgent need for global cooperation to mitigate climate change and implement strategies to address the increasing threat of desert locusts. Failure to address these risks could exacerbate existing challenges in food production systems and escalate global food insecurity. Ultimately, the findings underscore the critical importance of proactive measures to combat climate change and safeguard food security in vulnerable regions.

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