Thursday, November 15th 2012, 6:21 AM EST
Droughts have not increased since the 1950s despite the effects of global warming, according to a new study which contradicts earlier estimates.
According to a commonly used model of drought patterns, researchers had previously assumed that higher global temperatures were causing greater evaporation of water, and therefore more droughts.
But a more detailed analysis of weather data, including wind speed, humidity and radiation levels, found that in fact there has been "little change" in drought over the past 60 years.
Researchers from Princeton University and the Australian National University said drought was "expected to increase in frequency and severity" in the future, but added that currently used prediction methods are inaccurate.
Overestimating the influence of temperature on evaporation could skew estimates of the likely impacts of climate change over the coming decades, they reported in the Nature journal.
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