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A recent research by scientists in China’s Xinjiang province found that most areas in Central Asia have endured more severe aridification ever since the year of 2000.

Their research was published on the latest issue of Scientific Reports on May. 2.

With a new calculation method of PDSI (Palmer Drought Severity Index), a key indicator to evaluate the degree of drought, the research team in Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that no obvious change showed in the index in Central Asia in the last half century.

However, aridification has seen an aggravating trend in about 65 per cent of Central Asia in the last decade, with the high temperature fluctuation in this region.

PDSI is a comprehensive assessment for measuring long-term droughts that recognizes meteorological, agro-ecological and hydrological perspectives. “In examining regional precipitation anomalies under global warming, we found that precipitation in Central Asia showed a slightly downward trend from 2000 to 2014,” said CHEN Yaning, lead author of the study.

Soil moisture has exhibited a long-term decreasing trend over the past several decades, and is particularly obvious in the most recent (and warmest) decade, according to CHEN.

In the meantime, long-term observations from 11 main large headwater catchments in Central Asia showed that river runoffs have shown increasing trends since the 1960s

Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 percent of their mass, and the Tien Shan glaciers have lost an average of 5.4 billion tons of ice per year since the 1960s, totaling some 3,000 sq. km, according to a German study.

Located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, Central Asia is one of the most arid areas in the world, with a unique landscape that features expansive but fragile mountain-oasis-desert ecosystems.

The temperature in Central Asia experienced a sharp increase in 1997, and since then has been in a state of high volatility, making the last decade the warmest period on record.

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