Beijing: If global emissions continue to rise, drylands could cover over half of the world's land surface by 2100, according to a study.
Researchers from Lanzhou University in China released study results on climate change in the world's dryland regions recently, Xinhua news agency reported.
The paper was published in the latest edition of the journal "Nature Climate Change," on Monday.
In a scenario where high emissions continue, by 2100, 56 percent of the world's land surface will be covered by dryland, according to the paper.
This will have a disproportionate effect on developing countries, where over three quarters of the expansion is expected to occur, and could exacerbate poverty and land degradation, said Huang Jianping, professor at atmospheric science college under Lanzhou University.
Huang and his team said they observed greater warming trends over dryland regions than in humid regions.
They concluded that the combination of temperature and aridity increases with population growth in developing countries will amplify the risks and aggravate regional economic development disparity around the world.
The study warned of the urgency and importance of emission cuts, and global desertification control, according to Huang.
Drylands are regions where precipitation is offset by evaporation from surfaces and plant leaves.
They currently cover approximately 40 percent of global land surface and are expected to increase in size due to climate change and human activities.