The ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa region would not have happened without human activities that have changed the climate, according to a study by a team of meteorological scientists published Thursday, April 26.
The study confirmed that the severe drought hitting the Horn of Africa was caused by an unprecedented combination of lack of rain and high temperatures, which would not have happened without greenhouse gas emissions.
At least 4.35 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, and at least 180,000 refugees have fled Somalia and South Sudan to Kenya and Ethiopia, which have also been hit by drought.
This is due to the lack of rainfall, as well as high temperatures due to global warming, which have made the soil and pastures in the region drier than usual by increasing the evaporation of moisture from the ground and plants.
The study found that rainfall conditions would not have led to recent droughts in a world that was 1.2°C colder, and that climate change has caused droughts about 100 times more common than current ones.
Frederick Otto, Senior Fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, Frederick Otto, said: “This research shows conclusively that drought is much more than just the absence of rain, and that the effects of climate change are highly dependent on our vulnerability. The main conclusion of a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that we are more vulnerable than we thought.
The lack of precipitation and rising temperatures in the Horn of Africa would have been less severe if not for the effects of the man-made climate crisis, scientists said. But their study also showed that climate change has led to more rainfall at certain times of the year.
In the study region of southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and eastern Kenya, precipitation typically occurs in two seasons: a long rainy season from March to May, when most of the annual precipitation falls, and a short rainy season from October to May. December, with less intense rains and more changeable.
“Human-induced climate change has increased the likelihood of agricultural droughts in the Horn of Africa by a factor of 100,” the World Weather Tribute said in a statement. The network includes scientists from around the world who are rapidly assessing the relationship between extreme weather and climate disruption.
Notably, Study 19 was conducted by a researcher as part of a global weather team that brings together representatives from many countries and regions, including the UK, US, Europe and Africa.
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