by Yevgeny DYOMIN, Cand. Sc. (Tech.), consultant, Russian Agency for Automatic Equipment Testing;
Viktor KUSHIN, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Head of Lab, State Research Center "Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics"
The problem of preventing the spread of deserts in many parts of the world is now on the agenda of experts in different countries. An object of special concern is Sahara-a great desert of North Africa, which is the largest in the world. In recent years it has been increasing its southerly extent at the annual rate of 100 m, while storms originating there carry millions of tons of sand over thousands of miles.
Considerable levels of air pollution with fine particles of sand over the south-eastern coast of the United States and the Bermudas were traced by Prof. Joseph Prospero of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies of the University of Miami (USA). Ships navigating in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean are usually covered with fine dust brought there from Sahara, and it was recently discovered that this dust even finds its way to England and Sweden. The area most exposed to this pollution is the southern flank of Europe which is "within the reach" of the hot equatorial wind sirocco. The long period of hot weather (of up to 40°C) in the summer of 2003 in France has also been traced by weathermen to Sahara. Bearing all this in mind, one seems to have all the reasons to denounce the notorious African desert as a scourge of not just that particular continent, but of the whole of our planet.
Looking into the not too distant future, the impact of the global warming will be the strongest in Africa and South America*.
This forecast has been suggested by Acad. Izrael, Director of the RAS Institute of Global Climate and Ecology named after A. Obukhov. He points out that one of the consequences of this change will be a maximum reduction of the levels of natural precipitation in these regions, which suffer from lack of rains even now.
Forecasts of this ... Read more