African cyclones are growing worse and wetter thanks to global warming, according to climate scientists.
A team of 22 climate researchers from 8 countries collaborated on a study of cyclone seasons in Africa, comparing conditions today to pre-industrial weather patterns. Using weather observations and computer simulations to model climate scenarios, they targeted specifically changes in African cyclones and other storms due to human-caused global warming.
Their analysis determined that the 1.2C average increase in temperature between the two blocks of time contributed to tropical storms and cyclones that were more frequent and more extreme, with heavier rainfall causing floods and intense erosion. For a practical example. So far in 2022 Malawi and Mozambique have seen a record three tropical cyclones and two tropical storms, resulting in over 200 dead and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. And cyclone season still has a month to go.
The scientists admit that their models could be better, with more complete data, but they have faith in the determinations they have made.
“While our analysis clearly shows that climate change made the storms more damaging, our ability to establish precisely by how much was hampered by inconsistent data and lack of weather observations,” said Dr. Sarah Kew, from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. “This would also help to improve forecasts of extreme weather events and their impacts.”
There are few places in the world that haven’t seen a rise in extreme weather events in the past few decades. Floods, fires, and freezing storms have all made it plain that human-wrought global warming needs to be brought under control as quickly as possible, especially in vulnerable regions such as most of Africa.
“Strengthening scientific resources in Africa and other parts of the global south is key to help us better understand extreme weather events fueled by climate change, to prepare vulnerable people and infrastructure to better cope with them,” said another study member, Dr. Izidine Pinto, a climate system analyst at the University of Cape Town.
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