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The Swelling Sahara


Human-induced global warming is causing deserts such as the Sahara to increase in surface area.

In 1950 the area of the Sahara Desert was 9,200,000 km2, whereas in 2000 the area of the Sahara Desert had increased to 9,930,000 km2 due to human-induced global warming.

A model could be used to relate the surface area of the Sahara Desert, S km2, to the time, t, in years since 1950.

a) By first forming an exponential model for the surface area of the Sahara Desert relating S and t, show that the increase in the surface area of the Sahara Desert is approximately 0.15% per year.

[5 marks]

b) Use the model formed in (a) to estimate the size of the Sahara Desert in 2050. Give your answer in km2 to 3 s.f.

[1 mark]

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