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Tadrart Acacus desert in western Libya, part of the Sahara. Luca Galuzzi - www.galuzzi.it / Wikimedia Commons

The Sahara Desert—which takes up about 3.6 million square miles of northern Africa—is growing ever larger, signaling daunting news for people living in the Sahel border region who stand to lose valuable arable land to the expanding desert.

The boundaries of the world's largest hot desert, already around the size of China or the continental U.S, have grown roughly 10 percent since 1920 due to natural climate cycles as well as man-made climate change, according to a new study by National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientists at the University of Maryland.

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