Commenting on a tweet complaining about why most of the weather events in Africa were under-reported in the global north, a twitter user identifying himself as a Fact Checker said “ There is essentially NO climate change in Africa. None of these extreme weather events are associated with climate change.”
The extreme weather events in question are droughts, floods, wildfires, landslides and storms as highlighted in the tweet quote.
In simple terms, a drought is defined as a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall that leads to a shortage of water. Affecting the amount of moisture in soil as well as the amount of water in streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater, according to National Geographic education resources.
Climate change contributes to these dry spell periods through high temperatures which lead to evaporation and dry-out soils and vegetation. It also alters the seasonal timing of water or rainfall availability. However, some climate models find that warming increases precipitation variability, meaning there will be more periods of both heavy rainfall and drought. This creates the need for expanded water storage during drought years. In addition, there is an increased risk of flooding and dam failure during periods of extreme precipitation,” according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, an environmental nonprofit organization based in Virginia.
Floods occur when water overflows from a dry area. In coastal areas, this may be caused by tropical cyclones, storm surges or rapid snowmelt. Likewise, landslides are the collapse of rock and land from a mountain or cliff due to heavy rains.
According to the State of the Climate in Africa 2021, Africa’s climate has warmed more than the global average at an average rate of around +0.3°C/decade between 1991 and 2021, faster than the warming from 1961-1990, at +0.2°C/decade. As a result, rainfall patterns are disrupted, glaciers disappear, and key lakes are shrinking in many parts of Africa, leading to the occurrence of extreme weather events.
The report also states that sea level rise is increasing along the African coastlines at a higher rate than the global mean rate, especially along the Red Sea and southwest Indian Ocean where the rate is close to 4 mm/year.
The United Nations lists all these extreme weather events as a result of global warming. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and can make it more difficult to work and move around. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter. Changes in temperature cause changes in rainfall which results in more severe and frequent storms, thus causing flooding and landslides.
The claim is false. Extreme weather conditions in Africa are linked to climate change. Due to global warming, the earth’s temperatures are increasing, leading to an increase and change in weather patterns. In this observation, one weather event leads to another event depending on the environmental response to the increasing temperature and weather changes.
This fact-check was produced by Debunk Media Initiative with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network and African Fact-Checking Alliance network.