Professor Aniebiet Inyang Ntui

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Climate Change Behind the Devastating Horn of Africa Drought - Study

A new study released by the World Weather Attribution group has found that the current devastating drought in the Horn of Africa, which has lasted for five straight failed rainy seasons, would not have occurred without human-caused climate change. According to the study, climate change sparked by human emissions is exacerbating the region's arid conditions, as well as the suffering of tens of millions of people. This is one of the strongest conclusions that the group has made when dissecting extreme events worldwide.
The report comes as the drought has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. At least 36.4 million people in the Horn of Africa this year will need emergency assistance to survive, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The region includes southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and eastern Kenya, mired in an "exceptional drought," the U.S. Drought Monitor's worst category.
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The study's authors looked at rainfall trends over a 24-month period, from January 2021 to December 2022. They also examined the rainfall received during the "short rains" season, from October through December, as well as the "long rains" from March through May, beginning in 2021. They found that below-average rainfall during the short rains was most likely tied to the presence of a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific, rather than climate change. However, the long rains are becoming drier as the global climate warms, with below-average rainfall now about twice as likely as before the preindustrial era.
The researchers also examined changes in moisture loss rates, known as evapotranspiration, from plants and soils due to higher temperatures. The study found that moisture loss showed the strongest link to human-caused climate change, with a "conservative estimate" that such intense droughts, with extreme heat and moisture loss plus below-average rainfall, are at least 100 times more likely to occur now than they were in the preindustrial era. Without warmer temperatures from climate change, the study found that drought conditions either would not have existed at all or would have ranked in the least severe category.
The crisis is especially severe in Somalia, where up to 43,000 people — half of them under the age of 5 — died last year in the drought, according to the World Health Organization. More than 23 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are "highly food insecure and face severe hunger and water shortages," the U.N.'s refugee agency estimates. Aid groups have repeatedly called on the international community to do more to address the crisis, but the U.N. fund for humanitarian assistance in East Africa remains woefully underfunded.
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The research is based on peer-reviewed methodology but has not yet undergone its own review. The scientists examined rainfall and temperature data from ground-based weather stations, as well as other observational sources. They also looked at climate models to find how well they captured recent trends and ran them both with and without increased amounts of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
In conclusion, what is happening now in Africa is likely to play out elsewhere as climate change continues. As Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, notes, "The impacts of climate change strongly depend on how vulnerable we are. We are way more vulnerable than we thought." The crisis in the Horn of Africa serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact of climate change and the urgent need for action.

Human-induced climate change increased drought severity in Horn of Africa – World Weather Attribution

  • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

    2 w

    This is sad 😿 we keep on suffering from climate change yet we are the. Least contributors to climate change! It's high time rich countries pay up for the loss and Damage caused by climate change to global south communities especially horn of Africa

    • Patrick Kiash

      3 w

      Rains are no longer predictable as before,....A lot of awareness, should be done by relevant governments, different bodies supporting horn of Africa activities, for them to come up with sustainable ideas favorable to the ground activities, on the fight to curb climate, crisis, etc.

    • Kevin

      3 w

      Revealing findings here

      • Sarah Chabane

        3 w

        Striking and devastating findings...

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