One of the most amazing things about our planet is its ability to rain life. Precipitation patterns and the lack thereof are probably one of the most direct and personal dangers that we feel from anthropogenic climate change. Changing patterns can either bring new precipitation patterns or disrupt existing ones. The ocean plays such an important role when it comes to precipitation events. With the ocean behind the driver’s seat, we understand that it directs atmospheric circulations and the transport of evaporated water. Some countries don’t have the luxury, and I don’t say that loosely, of consistent precipitation patterns. Countries like Africa and parts of India are absolutely dependent on seasonal rains and changes in SST anomalies could alter atmospheric circulation patterns, thus change the location of specific rain evens. This could also mean that with warmer oceans more water is able to be evaporated and so rain events could be more instance. This may sound good, especially for such countries that are so dependent, but this raises the risk of disasters like flooding events and Mudslides. The big issue when it comes to changing precipitation patterns are water shortages. As populations continue to grow, water and water resources become increasingly scarce. Water is such an important resource and for most of us goes unthought of. However, this is a very big issue affecting many parts of the world, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere. A good understanding of Atmospheric Circulations can be fun and informative. I watch all of this professor’s lectures online. This one specifically focuses on Atmospheric circulations, but he goes into great detail in topics that are important to understanding in meteorology. The lack of water puts stress on the individual as well as economic securities.
Map representation of where and what kind of water stresses around the world.
Cape Town Africa
Cape town Africa is one of the most prosperous cities in South Africa with over 3.78 million people. Cape Town is undergoing a 3-year drought and could be the first city in the world to run out of water. Journalists describe the scene as a war zone with hundreds lined up with buckets to fill for their families. Water rations are given at 50 liters per person that may be used for drinking and sanitation but no more. These rations are controlled and very strictly enforced by authority figures which then leads to tension between the public and public officials. In Cape Towns drought, the shortage of rain is a big factor but not the only one. It has been observed (not only Cape town) that temperatures are increasing in Africa. With increasing temperatures comes a faster rate of evaporation and with both these factors in play comes a very real situation. This makes land dry and farming very difficult. By the beginning of summer 2018, the water will stop flowing from the spickets. This marks “Day Zero” the point when the water reservoirs dip below 13.5% capacity. The remaining water will be used in Hospitals. So, what happens when Day Zero comes? Water rations will be cut down to 25 liters per person per day, and people must get their water from personal water sources or one of the 200 watering stations. That’s about an 18,000-person line per station every day.
People waiting in lines at designated water refill locations.
Poverty and Starvation
One of the most direct and personal effects that a drought can have on a population is its effects on food production. When we start to see shifting rain patterns, we may see parts of the world experience droughts that can put millions of people in danger. Africa is experiencing these effects now and there are no signs of letting up. Food and water securities are major issues when it comes to the overall health of a population. The effects of food shortages impact people on so many different levels. When people are malnourished, they are more likely to contract diseases that can further prohibit nutrients to be absorbed properly and accelerate malnutrition. Mothers who may not be getting the vitamins and nutrition that they need can pass some diseases down to their offspring, or if the infant is still reliant on breast milk, the mother won’t be able to provide nourishment. The fact that Africa is such a densely populated area and that most of Africa resides in Arid regions makes it very sensitive to human-induced climate change and will greatly feel the impacts.
Types of droughts
Since we are talking about droughts It should be noted that there are different types of droughts that can have a direct impact on an area. It is important to understand this because climate change does not just affect a single feature, they are interconnected with other features that can impact others in a chain of interconnectivity. So, when meteorologists speak of droughts, it may not just mean that there is little or no rain. A Meteorological drought consists of the degree of dryness in comparison to the local average. This pertains to the amount of precipitation an area receives and how much evaporation is taking place. The second classification for a drought is called an Agricultural Drought. This links precipitation totals to agriculture and the stress that it may cause. It also means that there are shortages in groundwater as well as water reservoirs which In Cape Town and many parts of Africa, this is the more dominant influence. The last two are Hydrological and social-economical droughts. Hydrological droughts are classified when there is little discharge from streams and rivers lasting months or years. A Social-economical drought happens when the demand for goods are suppressed and exceed the supply of goods because of weather conditions. Most of Africa is suffering from more than one of these classifications. A large part of it has to deal with decreasing precipitation amounts and increasing evaporation amounts, like that of wells, dams, or other water storing reservoirs. Learn more about Droughts
Analisis and projections of water reserve amounts of the 6 most important dams in South Africa.
Climate Change isn’t Fair
It is said in the climate change societies that climate change is not fair. But what do we mean when we say “It is not fair?” the best example to use is Africa. Africa, in general, is under serious threat because of their huge population when it comes to changing rain patterns. There are over 106.8 million people in danger of starvation in Sierra Leone, Niger, and Democratic Republic of Congo alone. Africa is what is considered a country with high Vulnerability. There are different criteria for vulnerability but the main points that rank a countries level of vulnerability are as follows. One is the countries exposure to climate stress. Since Africa is located in a geological region that naturally favors Arid or semi-dry climates, that is less than 120 days of a growing season, the burden of climate stress is greatly felt. With such a highly populated region of the world, food is a very important issue and a cause for great concern when it comes to anthropogenic climate change.
Expanding desert regions due to precipitation patterns and increasing temperatures.
These areas of arid and semi-dry regions are expected to increase by 11% because of increasing temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns as well as atmospheric circulation changes, furthering the burden and stress. This brings in the second feature for identifying a region’s vulnerability, that is the sensitivity to the exposure. The fact that Africa is such a densely populated and that most of Africa resides in Arid regions makes it very sensitive to human-induced climate change and will greatly feel the impacts. This means that small fluctuations in either precipitation fall or other biophysical connections can have great impacts on either social or economic levels. For instance, expanding arid regions means that some countries may have to migrate further North or south to farm. However, if they reach their countries limits they risk war with neighboring countries and starving their own people. This may also drive the cost of food up or may mean that more water is needed to farm, thus making less water available for drinking and sanitation. The third criteria is a country’s Adaptive capabilities, that is how well is the country able to react to the stress induced by climate change, and ways that they can relieve stresses. This is not always an easy thing. This requires cooperation from the people and governments. If the governments are not willing to do all they can or if the country has very little money or resources (which is the case for Africa) adaptive capabilities can be low and the chance to mitigate issues even lower. A lot of the information I got from this blog can be located in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Its actually a very useful book and goes into great detail in complex topics. Unfortunately, I could not find a free version online but you can order it here. If you are interested in these topics I highly recommend it. Get the Book
The issue of poverty and starvation in 3rd world countries have been an issue for far too long. As populations continue to increase, the available amount of food slowly decreases. With climate change now in the mix, things start to accelerate faster in the wrong direction. The question is what do we do about it? And is it the job of developed countries to help developing countries? In my personal opinion, I do think that more developed countries help the less developed. I don’t think that this means that we need to ship all of our supplies overseas or send billions of dollars, but we should help them with technological developments. Take Cape town Africa again for instance. They have a huge mountain range close by that pretty much has its own climate. It is almost always foggy because of orographic lifting. That is water right there for the talking. They just may need a little assistance in developing a way to harness that natural water. That’s the kind of thing that I feel we all should do, not just the United States, but all countries. If you see someone needing help and your fully able to help, then why not help? When I first started this blog I really didn’t know what to make of it. I mean I knew about it but to actually dig deep into the issue and understanding how and why the planet’s systems are so closely correlated made everything fit together like a puzzle.
Changes in solar radiation output because of anthropogenic warming will change geophysical landscapes in the Arctic. Warming waters affect everything from ecosystems to changes in ocean chemistry and temperatures. Changes in temperatures will alter precipitation patterns that will affect where and how much rain places get. Storms may become more deadly and with populations growing, more people are at risk and can cripple the economy of a nation putting additional stress on the population and amplify starvation. Effects on food production will affect the coupling food, population, and sovereign securities. The main thing I have learned while doing all this research is how delicate everything is and how related they are. There is nothing we do that doesn’t have consequences, good or bad. When we get sick our body reacts to the problem and will react in a way to benefit its self. It is very possible that we have evolved to become a virus to this host. The Earth has been around for millions of years. It will be here when I die and when you die. If we do not take action and learn to work with our planet rather then against it, it is likely that we will need to go. It is such ignorance to think that the Earth needs us to survive when in fact, it is our home and we need it in order to live. It’s our home and it about time we start taking care of it.