The alarming effects of climate change have been unfolding before our very eyes over the past few decades, and in some cases we’ve only recently realized it. A team of British scientists recently found that the 2011 drought in Somalia that caused tens of thousands of deaths may partially have been caused by climate change. A peer-reviewed study that will appear in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, indicates that the drought was caused both by natural weather patterns and warming due to man-made causes.

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Scientists with Britain’s weather service studied weather patterns in East Africa in 2010 and 2011 and found that yearly precipitation known as “short rains” failed to occur in late 2010 due to La Nina. But the lack of long rains in early 2011 was an effect of what Peter Stott of Britain’s Met Office says was “the systematic warming due to (human) influence on greenhouse gas concentrations.” The Met Office’s computer modeling showed that between 24 and 99 percent of the cause of the failure of the 2011 rains can be attributed to the presence of man-made greenhouse gases.

Senait Gebregziabher, the Somalia country director for Oxfam, agrees that climate change is having an impact on humanitarian needs. He warns that “in the coming decades, unless urgent action is taken to slash greenhouse has emissions, temperatures in East Africa will continue to rise and rainfall patterns will change. This will create major problems for food production and availability.” Countries like Somalia are especially vulnerable to droughts as they rely so heavily on pastoral production.

Via Huffington Post

Photos by Oxfam East Africa [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons and by USAID Africa Bureau via Wikimedia Commons