By 2100, billions of people are at risk of facing more flooding, higher temperatures and less food and water. A new study published in “Nature Climate Change” found that the climate change will cause the Earth’s tropical rain belt to unevenly shift in areas that cover almost two-thirds of the world, potentially threatening environmental safety and food security for billions of people.

The tropical rain belt, otherwise known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ, is a narrow area that circles the Earth near the equator where trade winds from the Northern and Southern hemispheres meet. Areas along the equator are among the warmest on Earth, and this, paired with the winds, creates significant humidity and precipitation.

“Our work shows that climate change will cause the position of Earth’s tropical rain belt to move in opposite directions in two longitudinal sectors that cover almost two thirds of the globe,” lead author Antonios Mamalakis said in a statement, “a process that will have cascading effects on water availability and food production around the world.”

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