Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Heavy rains and floods that inundated Nigeria, Niger, Chad and the surrounding region between June and October this year have become 80 times more likely due to climate change, according to a rapid analysis by international climate attribution experts.

An analysis released late Wednesday by the World Weather Attribution group used peer-reviewed methods and found that climate change was largely behind the heavy rains that left more than 800 people dead, and will get worse as global average temperatures continue to rise.

“In the coming years, we will see very intense rains in the region,” warned climatologist Friederike Otto of Imperial College London, who led the study.

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The devastating floods, some of the worst seen in decades, also displaced 1.5 million people across the region, left thousands injured and damaged vast swaths of urban and rural land, prompting calls for better preparedness ahead of future events.

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“The lessons we learned from the floods require more concrete policies to consider for future development,” said Cheikh Kane of the Red Cross Climate Center, urging authorities in the region “to improve their level of preparedness.”

The scientists compared climate data from past and present weather information with a focus on Lake Chad and the lower Niger River to determine the impact of warming on flooding. They found that the region’s rainy season was 20% wetter than normal due to climate change and that there is now a one in ten chance of an event of this intensity occurring each year.

The researchers also analyzed the impact of climate change on droughts in 2021 that reduced crop production in the central Sahel and contributed to the ongoing food crisis, but could not draw any conclusions due to a lack of reliable data from weather stations.

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Scientists have called for greater investment in weather stations in the region to inform their work in the future and help communities prepare for extreme weather events.

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“Africa needs resources to create early warning systems and build climate-resilient infrastructure and cities,” philanthropist Mo Ibrahim told The Associated Press.

In Sharm el-Sheikh, where the UN’s two-week climate conference known as COP27 is underway, activists from the Niger Delta have called for an end to the fossil fuels responsible for climate change.

“Oil exploration contributes immensely to climate crises, including the severe flooding in Nigeria in October,” said Nigerian activist Lucky Abeng. “That’s why we came to the COP, to amplify our voices, for the entire global south about fossil fuel emitters.”

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