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1 [Introduction to Climate Change in East Africa]
Transcript of 1 [Introduction to Climate Change in East Africa]
Climate change affects the whole planet and has direct
effects on people's lives
add to climate impacts globally
When people cut forests or remove vegetation in other parts of the world, it reduces the amount of oxygen produced globally.
Burning of fossil fuels and dispersal of chemicals into the atmosphere affects the overall makeup of the atmosphere.
All people rely on resources and products that come from all over the world. This includes: food, medicine, raw materials, and energy. Our consumption affects land use globally. (I.e. factories built, land converted to farming, etc.)
What we learn about
climate change in East Africa can help us understand climate change elsewhere.
Greenhouse gases produced in Africa and elsewhere all contribute to changes in climate in other parts of the world.
Actions of people elsewhere have effects on the global climate. Global climate changes affect local climate systems.
The medicine we use, the foods we eat, the products we buy (i.e. consumption) all affect land use.
Developing nations have undeveloped land, resources, and policies that can be that can be utilized in the production process.
Developed nations place a demand for a certain product intended for import.
The product is exchanged for money.
But... There are Hidden Side-Effects
There are hidden side-effects in this seemingly simple transaction.
1. Deforestation, removal of forest to make way for farmland.
2. Loose air quality laws affects the global atmosphere.
How do Greenhouse Gases cause climate change?
Greenhouse gases, including Carbon Dioxide (CO2), trap heat near the Earth's surface.
Humans are generating excess GHGs at an increasing rate.
Light from the sun strikes Earth's surface--some of that light is absorbed, warming the ground and air.
Some light is reflected out of the atmosphere into space.
Presence of more CO2 means more heat will be trapped near Earth's surface, causing temperatures to increase.
In Africa over the last 100 years, average rainfall has been decreasing.
In Africa over the last 100 years, average temperatures have been increasing.
Climate Patterns impact on the local environment
These changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting vegetation in Africa.
African ecosystems are vulnerable to changes in rainfall.
Where there is less rain, there will be less vegetation.
Less rainfall overall and less predictable rainfall causes crops to be less successful.
Shortened growing seasons may not allow plants to reach their potential yield.
Too much rainfall can erode soil.
Too little rainfall early in the growing season may cause crops to fail as well.
Higher temperatures evaporate rivers and other drinking sources more rapidly.
Greenhouse gases lead to overall global temperature increase. Temperature increase specific to Savannah climates will dry out land and wilt plants more readily.
Effects on Temperature and Rainfall
Levels of greenhouse gases produced are a factor of population and the consumption patterns of that population.
Example: China's economic growth leads to greater personal wealth. More people are buying cars.
Example: Some African nations population is increasing, leading to overall increases in consumption. I.E. Food, fuel, other products.
Contributes: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide
Temperatures have been increasing since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 1860s. The graph shows recorded temperatures colder than the mean in blue and warmer than the mean in red. The warmest year of the series was 2010, at .540 degrees C above the 1961-90 mean.
In most regions in Africa, rainfall is declining and becoming more unpredictable. More extremes of drought and floods.
Burning in order to clear land destroys trees and their potential to absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen.
Burning trees puts carbon and methane up into the atmosphere.
Methane is released into the atmosphere by livestock. Methane is 72 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2 over a period of 20 years.
Learn more about global warming potential
Fuel is consumed in the operation of tractors, machinery, and irrigation equipment. Production of fertilizer results in production of nitrogen oxides.
Agricultural activity is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases.
"There is no single thermometer measuring the global temperature. Instead, individual thermometer measurements taken every day at several thousand stations over the land areas of the world are combined with thousands more measurements of sea surface temperature taken from ships moving over the oceans to produce an estimate of global average temperature every month." (IPCC)
"Pronounced long-term trends from 1900 to 2005 have been observed in precipitation amount in some places: significantly wetter in eastern North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia, but drier in the Sahel, southern Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Asia. More precipitation now falls as rain rather than snow in northern regions. Widespread increases in heavy precipitation events have been observed, even in places where total amounts have decreased. These changes are associated with increased water vapour in the atmosphere arising from the warming of the world’s oceans, especially at lower latitudes. There are also increases in some regions in the occurrences of both droughts and floods." (IPCC)
Global Precipitation Trends
Extreme Weather Patterns
Local Affects Global
Shift in Rainy Seasons
1) The long rainy season (Feb-June) appears to be starting from a lower level of rainfall during the short dry season in January/February.
2) The long rains are peaking and ending earlier, perhaps has much as by 15 days.
3) The short rainy season (Oct-Jan) is starting later and has less total rainfall. The result is a shorter and drier long rainy season, and a drier short rainy season.
City activity contributes a great deal to the production of greenhouse gases: cars, buses, lawn mowers, construction equipment, dry cleaners, charcoal fires, paint fumes, and coal-powered electricity.
Los Angeles smog in 2004
Planes, automobiles, trains, trucks, and buses. Motor vehicles emit millions of tons of pollutants into the air each year. In many urban areas, motor vehicles are the single largest contributor to ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. They are a major producer of CO2.
The primary pollutants produced by automobiles are:
Hydrocarbons. They come from the evaporation of fuel, especially on hot days, leaking fluids, and during refueling at gas stations.
Nitrogen oxides. Produced by high heat during the burning of fuel.
Carbon monoxide. Produced by the incomplete burning of fuel.
Newer automobiles equip catalytic converters to reduce emissions.
However, increased number of cars in modernizing regions such as China outweighs these improvements.
Lifestyle choices are also shifting--suburban residents drive longer distances to commercial areas--which means more gas used, and more emissions.
Metal works, petroleum processing plants, chemical plants, paper mills, manufacturing plants, coal power plants are major contributors of greenhouse gases as well as damaging sulfuric waste.
Largest contributors of pollutants: China, United States, Russia, India.
Follow the link for more:
Contributes: Nitrogen Oxide, Sulfur Dioxide, CO2
Forest Fires &
Land Use Change
Fires as seen from space. Farmers clear and burn their fields in preparation for the rains. Forest land is cleared by way of fire.
Contributes: CO2, reduces carbon sequestered (carbon stored in vegetation and soil), and vegetation removal increases the albedo and dries the surface
Land Use Change
Changing land use and its effect on vegetation changes local surface temperatures, the balance of oxygen and CO2 in the atmosphere, and the ability of an ecosystem to recover from stresses such as floods and droughts.
Avg. Daily Precipitation, Monduli, TZ 1935-2005
Vertical: up = greater precipitation, down = less precipitation
Horizontal: left = beginning of year, right = end of year
The graph shows observed rainfall for a one year period. The black, red, and blue lines show precipitation averages spanning many years. Black shows what the average year looks like for 1935-1960. Red shows 1961-1990. Blue is the most recent data, which shows 1991-2005.
Reading the Graph
Results & Interpretation
Climate Change in
Total amount of rain is less, rainy season shorter.
Extreme droughts are complimented with extreme rainfall, causing floods in coastal areas.
More Floods, More Droughts
"Over the 20th century, based on changes in sea surface temperatures, it is estimated that atmospheric water vapour increased by about 5% in the atmosphere over the oceans. Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapour stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events. Basic theory, climate model simulations and empirical evidence all confirm that warmer climates, owing to increased water vapour, lead to more intense precipitation events even when the total annual precipitation is reduced slightly, and with prospects for even stronger events when the overall precipitation amounts increase. The warmer climate therefore increases risks of both drought − where it is not raining − and floods − where it is − but at different times and/or places. For instance, the summer of 2002 in Europe brought widespread floods but was followed a year later in 2003 by record-breaking heat waves and drought. The distribution and timing of floods and droughts is most profoundly affected by the cycle of El Niño events, particularly in the tropics and over much of the mid-latitudes of Pacific-rim countries." (IPCC)
One of the effects of higher temperatures and lower precipitation is that the glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro are shrinking.
These glaciers are an important source of water for drinking, growing crops, watering livestock, and producing electrical power.
The image shows a river in Tanzania that is drying up due to high temperatures and low rainfall, an effect of climate change. People whose water source has dried up completely have to dig for water or travel further to another water source.
Changes in land use, such as clearing away forest to make way for urban development or farming affects air composition. Trees that converted once converted CO2 to Oxygen have been cleared.
This maize crop in Tanzania failed because of a drought.
Rainfall Changes in Africa
Climate change touches so many aspects of life.
Understanding climate change is the first step in adapting to it and counteracting it.
Climate Change: Observed change in climate systems over a period of time.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG): a gas that contributes to the Greenhouse Effect, namely CO2 and CFCs.
Greenhouse Effect: a process by which thermal radiation (heat) from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated towards earth, causing average global temperatures to increase. Visible light mainly passes through the atmosphere and heats the surface. The earth’s surface re-emits infrared, which is reflected by CFCs back towards Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): a heavy odorless colorless gas formed during respiration (breathing) and by the decomposition of organic substances (i.e. burning, decay); absorbed from the air by plants in photosynthesis.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): a group of gases, which are produced by industrial plants and agriculture that contributes to acid rain and smog. Gases in this group are highly toxic and impair lung function.
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2):
Methane (CH4): a potent GHG, released by animals and by forest fires.
Carbon sequestered, carbon store: Refers to long term storage of carbon in trees and peat soil. Burning of trees, peat, and biomass releases carbon as GHGs into the atmosphere.