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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Climate change a major factor in South Africa’s deadly floods

MOMBASA, Kenya ( Associated Press) — Devastating floods wreak havoc in South Africa A quick analysis published on Friday by a team of leading international scientists said mid-April this year has been attributed to human-caused climate change.

The World Weather Attribution Group study analyzed both historical and emerging sets of weather data related to the catastrophic rains that occurred last month, which caused massive landslides in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces, and concluded that the climate Change was a contributing factor. on the scale of damage.

“Human-induced climate change contributed largely to this extreme weather event,” said Izidine Pinto, a climate analyst at the University of Cape Town and part of the group conducting the analysis. “We need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a new reality where floods and heatwaves are more intense and damaging.”

Scientists said episodes of extreme rainfall that occurred in April can now be expected every twenty years, doubling the number of extreme weather events in the region if human-caused climate change was not a factor. The report said that the rains are also expected to be around 4 to 8% heavy.

More than 400 people died as a result of the floods and 40,000 others were seriously affected, with thousands now homeless or living in shelters. And property damage is estimated at $1.5 billion. The Durban port was also closed for several days due to the floods, disrupting the supply chain.

“The flooding of the Durban port, where African minerals and crops are shipped around the world, is also a reminder that there are no limits to climate impacts,” said Frederick Otto, a climate researcher at Imperial College in London who in place, it may have had substantial consequences elsewhere, which were not part of the study.

Venetia Fakula of the South African Meteorological Service said that even though the warning system issued early warnings in time to reduce the most severe impacts on human life, there were challenges in coordinating with disaster management agencies. The report’s authors noted that people living in marginalized communities or informal settlements were most affected by the floods.

Christopher Jack, deputy director of the Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town, who participated in the study, says the event exposed and exacerbated “structural disparities and vulnerabilities” in the region.

The analysis used long-established and peer-reviewed climate models to account for sea surface temperatures and varying levels of global wind circulation, among other factors. The results are in line with the accepted link between increased greenhouse gas emissions and greater rainfall intensity, the scientists said. As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water, making heavy rainfall more likely.

Earlier this year, as floods ravaged South Africa, the World Weather Attribution Group released another rapid assessment analysis. on the intensity of cyclones in southern Africa which concluded that human-caused climate change was also largely to blame.

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