Local Xperiences with a global problem
Effects of climate change on South Africa

F. HeidornMost of the information obtained about climate change and its future implications is derived from climate change models. These models have revealed information on the change in temperature and rainfall we, in South Africa, can expect to experience in the future.

With regards to temperature, the country’s average temperature is likely to increase by 1-3°C, with the interior experiencing the greatest increase. This increase is likely to be approximately 3-4 °C. With these increases in temperature, it means that in summer, on average, South Africans will experience more extremely hot days, resulting in future health problems such as sunstroke and skin cancer.

With regard to rainfall, distribution of precipitation over the country will change. Summer rainfall is likely to be delayed and over a shorter period of time. This means more extreme down pours which will affect agriculture, as topsoil will be washed away. The climate models indicate that there will be a net drying on the western two thirds of southern Africa. This means the Western Cape is predicted to face shorter rainfall seasons. The eastern parts of the Western Cape is likely to experience late summer rain. The east coast regions are likely to become significantly wetter with the risk of flooding increasing dramatically.

With these changes in temperatures and rainfall, it gives rise to the potential of severe climatic phenomena. Droughts and floods may become more frequent and more devastating in some parts of the country.  Temperature inversions are like to become more severe resulting in increased pollution issues. These affects will negatively impact the country and the people living in it.

by William Bruce, Westville Boys’ High School, South Africa

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