Aridity—the ratio of atmospheric water supply (precipitation; P) to demand (potential evapotranspiration; PET)—is projected to decrease (that is, areas will become drier) as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change, exacerbating land degradation and desertification. However, the timing of significant aridification relative to natural variability—defined here as the time of emergence for aridification (ToEA)—is unknown, despite its importance in designing and implementing mitigation policies.