This article of desert greening states that some areas around the Sahara have seen increased plant growth in recent decades, caused by global warming. The causal chain would be warmer air can hold more water -> more precipitation -> more plant growth.

Apparently (from historical sources) the Sahara was wetter during the medieval climate anomaly, which would fit.

However, the article gives as sources satellite images, reports by locals on plant growth and climate models predicting increased precipitation. Which makes me wonder, isn't there direct measurement of precipitation in some relevant areas (over the last decades)? Don't we have direct data to check?

Helpful would be data from the areas indicated in the article: Sahel zone, central Chad, Western Sudan.

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    $\begingroup$ Here you will find a list of precipitation data sets (gauge, satellite-only, and gauge+satellite). A brief overview is given here. These are products summarizing individual measurements. The CRU TS3.21 data set is one example. $\endgroup$ – daniel.heydebreck Jun 30 '16 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ One on the publications mentioned in the article is available [here](dx.doi.org/10.1029/2005GL023232). When they documented their work nicely, you should be able to find more information in there. $\endgroup$ – daniel.heydebreck Jun 30 '16 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, the article shows a decrease in precipitation in between (or rather a draught in the 70ties to 90ties) but I need to read it in more detail. @daniel.neumann thx, I've looked briefly at one data set and am not yet sure I can make heads andtails of it - see if I can answer my question myself over the next days, else I'll reformulate. $\endgroup$ – mart Jun 30 '16 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ There is a recent Nature paper on rainfall in the Sahel Zone: [Park et al., 2016](dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3065). Maybe the National Geographic articles was initialized by that paper? $\endgroup$ – daniel.heydebreck Jul 1 '16 at 14:02

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