The analysis concluded that climate change has increased the likelihood of fatal flooding in West Africa by 80 times


Devastating floods this summer and fall have displaced 1.5 million Nigerians and killed 612 people. And in the whole of West Africa, more than 800 people have lost their lives. Researchers have found that human-caused climate change has made heavy rains 80 times more likely to cause floods, according to a new analysis published Wednesday.

researchers, who Global weather referral groupwhich assesses the impact of climate change on extreme weather events, has come up with several related findings:

  • The rainy season in West Africa has been 20 percent wetter than it would have been without the impact of climate change.
  • Across West Africa, there is a one in ten chance of prolonged rain events like the one we just witnessed each year; Previously it was exceptionally rare.
  • The potential for heavy rainfall, which has exacerbated recent floods, has doubled in the lower Niger Basin region due to climate change.

In their analysis, the researchers uncovered what they described as a “very clear fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change.”

The analysis used weather data and climate models to compare current climate conditions to the past. The researchers focused on the Lake Chad basin, which experienced a wetter-than-average rainy season, and the lower Niger basin, which saw short spikes in very heavy rainfall, to analyze the effects of climate change.

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By running simulations with and without the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution, the researchers were able to determine how climate changes the risk of heavy rainfall.

Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin were among the countries hardest hit by the floods. Nearly 200 residents of Niger and 22 people in Chad were killed.

Catastrophic floods were another example of extreme weather – exacerbated by climate change – disproportionately affecting vulnerable regions.

“In regions like West Africa … there is less data and less scientific interest than in wealthier parts of the world,” said Martin van Aalst, researcher and director of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre, one of the authors of the analysis. “The floods caused great suffering and damage, especially in the context of extreme human vulnerability.”

The typical rainy season in West Africa runs from May to October, but this year the rainy season started early. Nigeria and Niger were the first to suffer severe flooding.

In Nigeria alone, floods injured 2,776 people, destroyed 123,807 homes, and submerged 392,399 hectares of farmland. He said Saadia Omar Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

We sympathize with the families of those who lost their lives, those who lost their livelihoods and their property. Farouk said in a statement.

She added, “These are natural disasters, and we pray we never see them again.”

But the analysis concluded that the region will experience such floods with greater frequency in the coming decades.

The increased prevalence of these flood events will leave already vulnerable communities more vulnerable and less able to recover.

“This could be in a physical sense, for example if flood protection measures are destroyed, or homes are rebuilt with more vulnerable materials,” Van Aalst told The Post. “But also in terms of human vulnerability, for example if people invest their assets or their savings to get their lives back, and then they don’t have that barrier anymore if there is a next shock.”

Along with their analysis of the role of climate change in the West African floods, the researchers attempted to find out what role they played in the 2021 drought in the Sahel region. The semi-desert region, which relies on annual rains for crop production, suffered a major blow when less than 40 percent of its water needs for crops were met that summer. However, due to the limited data available, the researchers were unable to determine whether human-caused warming was a factor.

The researchers’ report said that both analyzes point to West Africa’s vulnerability to precipitation variability that will only worsen with warming.

Some scholars are calling for richer countries, particularly in the West, to financially address the effects of extreme weather and climate change in the poorer countries that are suffering.

“It is fair to see this challenge as part of the global responsibility to address the climate crisis: we all need to reduce emissions to avoid risks spiraling out of control, but also invest more in adaptation to reduce vulnerability to increased risks, and to strengthen resilience to deal with the impacts, particularly in the most vulnerable societies. vulnerable,” Van Aalst said.

Twenty-two researchers participated in the flood analysis in West Africa and 18 researchers in the Sahel drought study.

The World Weather Attribution Project also analyzed more than half a dozen other extreme weather events this year to assess the impact of climate change. For example, it was found that climate change caused higher temperatures in the United Kingdom in July Ten times more likelyand extreme heat in India and Pakistan during the months of May and June 30 times as likely. It also determined that climate change has led to an increase in rainfall that causes summer floods in Pakistan by 50 to 75 percent.

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