La Nina strikes again

Over the past two decades droughts in the east of Africa have become more frequent and more severe.

by
    Kenya is no stranger to droughts, but this year the drought is particularly severe

    A subtle change in the Pacific Ocean is still having a significant effect on the weather around the globe.

    Over the past year, the surface water of the Pacific has been a little cooler than usual. The drop is only about 1.5 degrees Celsius, but for the ocean, this is a large change, in fact the largest seen in decades.

    The cooling, known as La Nina, is known to affect the weather in many countries throughout the world. It is responsible for the recent floods in Australia, Southern Africa and Sri Lanka, and it is also affecting the weather in the Horn of Africa.

    However, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are not suffering from too much rain, but too little.

    This region usually sees two rainy seasons in a year, the first between March and May and the second in November and December. The rains at the end of 2010 were well below average and the second rainy season is also not living up to expectations.

    This is doubly bad news for a region which regularly sees droughts and they seem to be occurring with increased frequency.

    More droughts to come

    New research from the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) has concluded that rainfall will continue to be insufficient in the coming years.

    Their studies found that warmer, drier winds have moved west towards Africa, inhibiting rainfall, particularly between March and June, which is the first of the two rainy seasons.

    This would obviously have dire affects on the region, but it flies in the face of the research by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts that in the coming years the trend will be for increased rain over East Africa, not less

    Certainly the people living in the area are hoping the new research at the UCSB is flawed and that the rains recover soon.

    However, La Nina conditions are expected to persist for the next few months at least, and during this time there is little chance of a decent rain.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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