Africa Sugar 2020
ClimateOpinion

Climate change and Southern African drought

Many experts believe that climate change will affect more to the northern hemisphere of the earth than the southern hemisphere and reason being that the northern hemisphere is more crowded and polluted than the southern hemisphere. However recent events in southern countries such as South Africa and Australia are proving it wrong. Southern countries in Africa are suffering through the worst drought in several decades, whereas Australia is suffering through one of the largest bush fires of all time due to heatwaves.

Draught in Southern Africa

It’s not just the Republic of South Africa but also other southern African countries are suffering through a drought since 2018 till now. These countries include Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Considering the severity of the situation Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have declared a state of emergencies. The economy of many of these countries is based on Agriculture, which is now totally disrupted due to scarcity of water. This drought situation is said to be the result of the El Niño effect in the ocean, which is an unusual weather pattern.

Food Crisis

45 million people are suffering due to food shortages in countries of southern Africa. There has been a drastic increase in the number of food-insecure people in this region since 2018. More than 11 million people are experiencing “Emergency” or “Crisis” levels of food insecurity. The UN food agencies are escalating their responses across the nine countries, planning to assist more than 11 million people by mid-2020.

What is El Niño Effect?

The literal meaning of this Spanish word is “The Christ Child”, as it usually occurs near Christmas. As per National Geographic society, El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. El Nino is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). El Niño has an impact on ocean temperatures, the speed and strength of ocean currents, the health of coastal fisheries, and local weather from Australia to South America and beyond. El Niño events occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals. However, El Niño is not a regular cycle or predictable in the sense that ocean tides are.

Effects of Climate Change on El Niño

The weather conditions and ocean currents have a direct impact on the weather and land. These ocean currents and winds are mainly responsible for rains and various weather patterns on the land. As the temperature of the earth is rising due to high carbon emission, polar ice caps are melting. And Because of this, a huge amount of freshwater is getting added into the oceans. This causes the change in the saltwater concentration of the oceans, affecting its currents. Any alteration in the ocean currents ultimately affects the existing weather patterns on the land and it also results in increasing intensity of the El Niños across the globe. According to a new study publish in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate change is increasing the frequencies of the extreme El Niño events.

Therefore, climate change must be address as soon as possible to avoid human sufferings due to extreme climatic conditions in the future.

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