Scientists stated on Friday that global warming made the torrential rains that caused South Africa’s disastrous floods last month twice as likely as they would have been if greenhouse gas emissions had never heated the earth.
Flash floods in the Durban area killed 435 people, displaced tens of thousands, and damaged roads, electricity lines, water pipelines, and one of Africa’s busiest ports for ten billion rand ($621.73 million).
The World Meteorological Attribution group compared today’s climate to that of the late 1800s, when the world was around 1.2 degrees Celsius colder, using weather data and computational models.
A report on the research stated, “The results suggested that a heavy rainfall episode like this one may now be predicted to happen around once every 20 years.”
“Such an occurrence would only happen once every 40 years without human-caused global warming, thus it has become approximately twice as common as a result of greenhouse gas emissions.”
It went on to say that when heavy downpours do occur, they will be 4-8 percent heavier than they would be without human-caused global warming.
Attributing individual weather phenomena to climate change is a difficult task that involves probability rather than certainty. However, Imperial College London co-author Friederike Otto noted the study looked at data from the entire area, not just Durban.
“Examining the impact of climate change on a bigger scale is actually a very useful method of doing so. According to the study, there is a 5% chance of such a catastrophe occurring in any given year “urring,” she said at a press briefing, compared to 2.5 percent without global warming.
According to experts, Africa’s southeastern coast is on the front lines of seaborne weather systems that are becoming more dangerous as a result of climate change. Mozambique, South Africa’s tropical northern neighbor, has been hit by many cyclones and floods in the last decade, including one that killed more than 50 people in April.
“The trends we observe in southern Africa are similar with what we see everywhere in the world,” said Jasper Knight, a geoscientist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who was not involved in the study.
“It proves that climate change is real, that it is occurring now, and that it is affecting the most vulnerable.”