Category Archives: Flooding

Global heating to inflict more droughts on Africa as well as floods

droughtFlooding in the Tana river area of Kenya in 2018, when 60,000 people were forced to move home. Photograph: Andrew Kasuku/AFP

Global heating could bring many more bouts of severe drought as well as increased flooding to Africa than previously forecast, scientists have warned.

New research says the continent will experience many extreme outbreaks of intense rainfall over the next 80 years. These could trigger devastating floods, storms and disruption of farming. In addition, these events are likely to be interspersed with more crippling droughts during the growing season and these could also damage crop and food production.

“Essentially we have found that both ends of Africa’s weather extremes will get more severe,” said Elizabeth Kendon of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in Exeter. “The wet extreme will get worse, but also the appearance of dry spells during the growing season will also get more severe.”

This meteorological double whammy is blamed on the burning of fossil fuels, which is increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and causing it to heat up. Last month levels of carbon dioxide reached 415 parts per million, their highest level since Homo sapiens first appeared on Earth – and scientists warn that they are likely to continue on this upward curve for several decades. Global temperatures will be raised dangerously as a result.

The new meteorology study – carried out by scientists at the Met Office in collaboration with researchers at the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University – reports on the likely impact on Africa of these temperature rises and indicates that western and central areas will suffer the worst impacts of weather disruptions. Many countries in these regions – including Niger, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo – are expected to experience substantial growth in population over that time and will be particularly vulnerable to severe floods.

At the other end of the precipitation spectrum, the study revealed there would be an increase in occasions when severe drought would occur for up to 10 days in the midst of the most critical part of a region’s growing season. The result could cause severe disruption to crop production.

“We have been able to model – in much finer detail than was previously possible – the manner in which rainfall patterns will change over Africa,” said Kendon. In the past it was thought intense rainfalls would occur in a region every 30 years. The new study, funded by UK foreign aid, indicates this is more likely to happen every three or four years.

An example of such flooding occurred two weeks ago when it was reported that eight people had died south of Kampala in Uganda after torrential rain hit the region. Similarly, at least 15 people were reported to have died during floods in Kenya last year. Thousands lost their homes.

“Our research suggests that extreme bouts of rainfall are likely to be seven or eight times more frequent than they are today,” said Kendon.

The new research, which is published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, is based on forecasts of rainfall in Africa that were achieved by analysing weather patterns in great detail.

“Africa is one of the parts of the planet that is going to be most vulnerable to climate change,” said Kendon. “Our study of rainfall patterns shows there are going to be some very severe problems to face food security and dealing with droughts.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/14/africa-global-heating-more-droughts-and-flooding-threat

‘Incredibly difficult’ to reach Mozambique cyclone survivors

imageMozambique’s government urged residents of the main city of Pemba to flee to higher ground as flooding continued [Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

Torrential rain continued to batter northern Mozambique on Tuesday, several days after Cyclone Kenneth, as the United Nations said aid workers faced “an incredibly difficult situation” in reaching thousands of survivors.

The rains grounded aid operations for a third consecutive day leaving some of the worst-hit communities cut off with very limited supplies.

A planned World Food Programme (WFP) flight to the island of Ibo was on standby until the weather improved, according to Deborah Nguyen, spokeswoman for the agency.

“We are really concerned about the situation for people on Ibo island,” she said, as they had been left out in the open after the majority of homes were destroyed, and with very limited food.

“For us, it’s a frustrating day … There is not much we can do to reach these islands now,” she said.

The government again urged residents of the main city of Pemba to flee to higher ground as flooding continued.

More than 570 millilitres has fallen in Pemba since Kenneth made landfall on Thursday, just six weeks after Cyclone Idai tore into central Mozambique.

This is the first time two cyclones have struck the southern African nation in a single season, and Kenneth was the first cyclone recorded so far north in Mozambique in the modern era of satellite imaging.

The latest storm has killed at least 41 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

Up to 50 millilitres of rain were forecast over the next 24 hours, and rivers in the region were expected to reach flood peak by Thursday, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said, citing a UK aid analysis.

During a break in the downpours on Tuesday morning, some aid flights did manage to ferry supplies to the mainland district of Quissanga and the island of Matemo.

“These people lost everything,” said Gemma Connell, spokeswoman for OCHA. “It is critical that we get them the food that they need to survive.”

Women and children have been the hardest hit “without the basics that they need to get by,” especially shelter, she said.

Landslides

The heavy rains also triggered a landslide at a rubbish dump on Sunday that killed at least five people, Pemba Mayor Florete Matarua told local TV channel STV. The people were all members of the same family and several other houses had also been buried, STV reported.

The death toll was expected to rise as government officials had yet to reach all areas hit by the storm.

Kenneth, packing storm surges and winds of up to 280 km per hour, devastated villages and islands along a 60 km stretch of coast in Mozambique’s north.

Nearly 35,000 houses have been completely or partially destroyed, the government said, and infrastructure and crops also ruined.

Preliminary government assessments suggest 31,000 hectares of crops have been lost in an area already vulnerable to food shortages, and fisheries and other key sources of sustenance like coconut trees were also damaged.

“The short-, mid- and long-term availability of food is worrisome,” said Herve Verhoosel, senior WFP spokesman in Geneva.

Authorities were also preparing for a possible cholera outbreak as some wells were contaminated and safe drinking water became a growing concern.

With the pair of deadly cyclones, Idai killed more than 600 people last month, Mozambique is “a very complex humanitarian situation,” said Connell, the OCHA spokeswoman. Only a quarter of the funding needed for Idai relief efforts has come in while funding for Kenneth has been slow.

“This is a new crisis,” she said. “We are having to stretch across the two operations. That is a basic reality we are dealing with every day.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/difficult-reach-mozambique-cyclone-survivors-190430113833772.html