24 July 2024
El Niño drought grips Africa

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The Impact of El Nino Drought in Africa

The recent severe drought in southern Africa, which has led to widespread hunger and agricultural devastation, has been attributed primarily to the El Niño weather pattern rather than climate change, according to a study by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) research group. This drought has significantly affected countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, prompting declarations of national disasters and urgent appeals for aid. While the President of Zambia linked the lack of rains to climate change, researchers found that El Niño was the main driver of the drought in the region.

Understanding El Niño and Its Effects

El Niño, a natural weather phenomenon characterized by the warming of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, occurs every two to seven years and can lead to global weather disruptions. The current El Niño event started in mid-2023 and is expected to affect temperatures until May. This phenomenon brings hotter weather globally and can result in reduced rainfall in certain regions, such as southern Africa. The decrease in precipitation during El Niño events can exacerbate drought conditions and have severe impacts on agriculture and water resources.

Climate Change Versus El Niño

While climate change is a significant global issue with far-reaching consequences, the study highlights that the recent drought in southern Africa was primarily driven by El Niño rather than human-induced climate change. The researchers analyzed historical weather data and found that while rainfall in the region has increased with global warming, the effective precipitation has remained constant due to higher temperatures causing increased evaporation. This, combined with the reduced rainfall associated with El Niño, resulted in the severe drought experienced by the region.

Related Video

Published on: February 17, 2016 Description: Americans may associate El Nino with heavy rains. But in Southern and Eastern Africa, it's the cause of a terrible drought.
El Nino causing devastating drought in Africa
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Humanitarian Crisis and Urgent Actions

The impact of the El Niño-induced drought in southern Africa has been devastating, with millions of people facing hunger, malnutrition, and outbreaks of waterborne diseases due to water shortages. Aid agencies like Oxfam have highlighted the urgent need for assistance to address the humanitarian crisis in the region. Governments, international organizations, and local communities must work together to provide relief, support agricultural recovery, and build resilience to future climate-related disasters. Efforts to mitigate the effects of El Niño and climate change, such as improving water management, implementing sustainable agricultural practices, and enhancing early warning systems, are crucial to safeguarding the livelihoods and well-being of the affected populations.

While the El Niño drought in Africa has brought significant challenges and hardships to the region, understanding the drivers of such weather events is essential for effective response and preparedness. By recognizing the unique role of El Niño in driving drought conditions in southern Africa, stakeholders can better focus their efforts on mitigating the immediate impacts and building long-term resilience to future climate-related disasters.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.nature.com 2. www.sciencedirect.com 3. www.nasa.gov

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: El Niño (weather phenomenon), Drought, Climate change

El Niño–Southern Oscillation
El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a global climate phenomenon that emerges from variations in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical Pacific Ocean. Those variations have an irregular pattern but do have some semblance of cycles. The occurrence of ENSO is not predictable. It affects the climate of much...
Read more: El Niño–Southern Oscillation

Drought
A drought is a period of drier-than-normal conditions.: 1157  A drought can last for days, months or years. Drought often has large impacts on the ecosystems and agriculture of affected regions, and causes harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics significantly increase the chances of a drought...
Read more: Drought

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

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