As drought continues to hit South Africans in the worst way possible, new research has raised alarm that a record-breaking string of hot years since the year 2000 seem to be a sign of man-made global warming.
In a study conducted by a US led team of experts in the Scientific Reports Journal which was published today, the researchers warned that climate change has transitioned from what used to be a subtle phenomenon into a real event caused by humans.
Referring to last year’s global average temperature as the hottest ever by the widest margin on record since the 19th century, the scientists blamed it on greenhouse gases from burning of fossil fuels, stoking heat waves, droughts, downpours and rising sea levels.
The U.S. space agency NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also revealed a data showing that in 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.90 Celsius above the 20th century average, surpassing 2014’s previous record by 0.16 C. This invariably showed that it was the fourth time a global temperature recorded such high rise in temperature in this century.
To this therefore, South Africans have been warned to look out for hotter periods with little rain. The South African Weather Service further warned South Africans to see to it that they stay indoors and out of the sun.
“We’d like to see people stay in well ventilated rooms, take enough liquids and also wear cool light clothes and don’t participate in strenuous activities,” they said.
The department of Water Affairs has also raised an alarm on the effect of the extreme heat on the water in dams saying that the dam level has drastically reduced.
“The heatwave has obviously meant that we’ve had more evaporation in our water resources, especially our dams and open reservoirs. So it implies that we’ve had less water that we’ve had to be able to put into the system,” the department’s spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said.
The University of Pretoria’s Professor Willem Landman added that weather forecast for the next weeks and possibly months might not change.
“The forecast for the next couple of weeks ahead, and maybe the next few months, I think we can expect to see periods of little rain and intense heat.”
“I can again see periods of irrigation, but we can expect to find again periods of intense heat and no rain.”
The public has also been warned of the effect the intense heat will have on them. These includes heat stroke which could result in a person losing consciousness, experiencing seizures and cardiac arrest.