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Global warming responsible for record drought in the Horn of Africa

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A scientific study published on Thursday, April 27, showed that the historic drought that afflicted the Greater Horn of Africa region is an unprecedented combination of lack of rain and high temperatures, which would not have occurred without the consequences of human greenhouse gas emissions.

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“Human-induced climate change has increased the likelihood of agricultural droughts in the Horn of Africa by nearly 100 times.” Before, reports World Weather Attribution (WWA), a global network of scientists that is on the spot assessing the link between extreme weather events and climate change.

sequel after announcement

Since the end of 2020, the countries of the Greater Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan), a large peninsula in the east of the continent, have been experiencing the worst drought in forty years. Five consecutive rainy seasons have killed millions of livestock and destroyed crops. According to the United Nations, 22 million people are threatened with hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia (where there is also an Islamist insurgency).

‘extremely severe’ drought

According to the 19 scientists who contributed to the report, it was due to climate change “Little effect on annual precipitation” the last in the region. But it has severely affected warming, and is responsible for the sharp increase in evapotranspiration that has led to record drying of soils and vegetation.

“It is climate change that has made this drought so dangerous and exceptional”summed up Joyce Kimutai, a Kenyan climatologist contributing to the report, in a phone briefing on Wednesday.

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Founded by well-known climatologists, the WWA Network has proven itself in recent years by being able to assess the influence, both powerful and somewhat erratic, between extreme weather events (heat waves, floods, droughts, etc.) and human-caused climate change.

sequel after announcement

Its results, produced in haste, are published without going through the lengthy process of peer-reviewed journals, but they do combine peer-reviewed methods, first with historical weather data and climate models.

Rainy seasons change

This time the Academy focused its study on three of the most affected countries (southern Ethiopia, Somalia and eastern Kenya). He found that climate change shifted the two rainy seasons in two opposite ways: the most severe, between March and May, “It gets drier and lack of precipitation becomes twice as likely.” than it was in the past, while “Low season gets wetter.”.

But in recent years, “This wetter low-season trend was masked by the cyclical La Niña weather phenomenon.” that reduce tropical precipitation and for which there is no evidence yet that they are affected by anthropogenic climate change.

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This rare pairing, in a region that has seen five rainy seasons since the end of 2020, then combined with the increase in temperatures to cause record drying of soil and vegetation.

sequel after announcement

Had the planet not already warmed by 1.2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, this precipitation would have subjected the region to conditions that are, at worst, “abnormally dry”WWA confirms, a level below the first degree of severity of drought in the American rankings. clearly, Climate change was a necessary condition for such a severe drought to occur.scientists conclude.

The current situation is described as: ‘exceptional drought’4H And the last alert level of the US scale. Unlikely before, it now has a 5% chance of reproducing each year.

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