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Weather Projections: More Intense El Niño and La Niña

Written by Janice M on . Posted in Water & Environmental

October 2018

A new study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Energy has found that when an El Niño or a La Niña forms in the future, it likely to cause more extreme weather over many land regions – intensifying changes to temperature, rainfall and wildfires.

Model simulations of the future indicate that this weather whiplash is likely going to become more extreme and exert a greater influence over the weather.

Extreme weather patterns across Africa have also become more frequent.

Africa: Extreme Weather Threatens African Society and Economy

One reason Africa is particularly vulnerable to these changes is that an estimated 70 percent of the population grow their own food to some extent. South African farming consultant Kobus Hartman said many of the farmers he works with are worried about the unpredictability of the weather.

“A farmer up in the north of the country near Namibia tells me he’s not had any significant rain for the last seven years,” Hartman told DW. “That area doesn’t get a lot of rain but to get no rain for this long is extreme. And that’s typical. Some years we’re getting huge floods, some years we’re getting absolutely nothing.”

Nigerian academic Chidiebere Ofoegbu, a specialist in environmental management and climate change at the University of Cape Town’s African Climate and Development Initiative, said the continent’s dependence on subsistence farming makes people vulnerable.

“This means that climate change has a greater impact on people’s wellbeing and their socioeconomic status,” he told DW. “So you find that a little shift in, for example, rainfall, can lead many people to crop failure and the intensification of poverty.”

Read More at allafrica.com

HEAT STROKE AND ECOSYSTEM LOSS

All mammals – and humans are no exception – maintain a tight temperature range.

In our case, it’s about 37°C.

When the ambient temperature (the temperature of the environment around you) goes above 38°C, you’re at risk of heat exhaustion. At 40.6°C and more, heat stroke becomes a risk.

This can be deadly – more than 40 Japanese people have died in persistent temperatures of 38°C since the beginning of July.

In fact, things get serious long before that, as quite mild increases in heat carry off the vulnerable – the very young, the ill and the elderly. In a European study, the death rate started to rise above normal at 32.7°C in Athens.

Livestock suffer similarly in the heat and, as professor Scholes noted, in many areas we’re already “quite close to the level where livestock is not really viable”, so we don’t have much margin to play with.

We can move some livestock to warmer areas that were previously too cold for them, but it’s a slim budget of land.

Wildlife face the same predicament, except they can’t move as easily, as they need to take a whole biome with them – food plants, insects, birds and all.

This is one reason the Kruger National Park faces the prospect of losing two-thirds of its species, a dramatic loss that will affect tourism and the ecosystem.

Recent major flooding in the park was “due to an increasing frequency of cyclone-driven extreme floods”.

But there are some species that are prospering and will continue to do so with climate change.

Microbes like cholera, for example, will be able to spread rapidly in polluted waters and in floods; rats (and other pest species), the populations of which are already exploding in urban South Africa, love the warmth and the rapid growth of our cities.

Already, two-thirds of South Africans live in cities and predictions are that, by 2050, three out of four of us will be urbanites.

And cockroaches. Read More by Mandi Smallhorne at news24.com

 

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