The devastating drought ravaging the Horn of Africa could not have happened without global warming, according to a new report released Thursday by an international team of climate scientists.
“Human-induced climate change has made agricultural droughts in the Horn of Africa nearly 100 times more likely,” the report summary from the World Weather Referral Group (WWA) said.
“The ongoing devastating drought would never have happened without greenhouse gas emissions,” she added.
Since late 2020, countries in the Horn of Africa – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan – have suffered their worst drought in 40 years. An extended drought has killed millions of livestock and destroyed crops.
The WWA study focused on the three regions most affected by drought: southern Ethiopia, Somalia and eastern Kenya.
While climate change has had little impact on the region’s total annual precipitation, “higher temperatures have greatly increased evapotranspiration from soil and vegetation, making dry soils more likely,” according to the 19 scientists who contributed to the WWA report.
“Without this impact, the region would not have experienced an agricultural drought – when crops and pastures are affected by drought conditions – during the past two years,” the abstract added.
“Instead, widespread crop failures and livestock deaths have left more than 20 million people at risk of acute food insecurity.”
For its rapid analysis, the academy said, “scientists considered changes in precipitation in 2021 and 2022 in the affected region, which covers southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and eastern Kenya.”
“They found that climate change is affecting periods of precipitation in opposite ways. Long rains have become drier, with the probability of precipitation now about twice as likely, while short rains have become wetter due to climate change,” she added.
“This wetter trend in short precipitation has recently been obscured by the La Niña weather pattern, which reduces precipitation in short precipitation periods.”
Joyce Kimutai, a Kenyan climate scientist who contributed to the report, told AFP: “It is time we act and engage differently. Central to this process is transforming and strengthening the resilience of our systems.
“We need to innovate across and across food systems, improve collaboration, engage vulnerable groups, make optimal use of data and information, as well as integrate new technologies and traditional knowledge.”
Created by leading climate scientists, the WWA network has gained a reputation in recent years for its ability to assess the extent to which climate change contributes to extreme weather events.
Their results are published on an urgent basis, without going through the lengthy peer-review process required by scientific journals, but using approved methodological approaches.
© 2023 AFP
the quote: Global Warming Made Drying of the Horn of Africa Possible: A Report (2023, April 27) Retrieved April 27, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-global-horn-africa-dafv.html
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