India's 'wet desert' hit by global climate change: scientists

Rainfall in the unique "wet desert" of India's northeast has become unpredictable and the dry season longer in a disturbing sign of major changes in global weather patterns, scientists say.

Cherrapunji, in northeast India's tiny Meghalaya state, has long been a top contender for the world's wettest spot, with approximately 12 metres (40 feet) of rainfall annually, most of it in the summer monsoon season.

But a group of Polish and Indian scientists who have been studying the unusual ecosystem -- it falls on a latitude known for some of the world's driest areas, including the Sahara and Gobi deserts -- said that was changing.

Rainfall steadily lessened in the last half of the 20th century, they said.

At the same time, fluctuations increased, meaning the wet years were frequently wetter and the dry years dryer.