Air temperature in the Arctic was -19.25°C on 2023-03-23. This is 0.15°C higher than 90th percentile of climatology period... READ MORE
Air temperature in the Arctic was -19.28°C on 2023-03-22. This is 0.27°C higher than 90th percentile of climatology period... READ MORE
Today the final synthesis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 6th Assessment Report cycle was released. This synthesis report restates that it is "now or never" to act, and that we are well on... READ MORE
Arctic sea ice has likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.62 million square kilometres (5.64 million square miles) on March 6, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at... READ MORE
Tropical cyclone Freddy is set to make more international records--including possibly one for the longest-lasting storm, later this... READ MORE
CO2 Budget Depletion
The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world with effects felt globally (Rantananen et al., 2022). Like the Arctic, the African continent is particularly sensitive to warming and is also heating faster than the global average (WMO, 2021). The effects of this rapid warming have pinned Africa as the continent most strongly affected by changes in the climate (African Development Bank Group, 2022).
Covering 30.37 million square kilometres, Africa is the only continent to straddle the equator and reach into both the northern and southern temperate zones. While Arctic change is not uniformly responsible for disasters across this expanse, there are numerous factors from the northern pole involved.
The African continent has seven out of the 20 countries identified as the most at risk of climate related disasters (Global Climate Risk Index, 2021). Socio-economic impacts of climate change have a negative impact on people’s livelihoods and wider economies. Read more on our Socio Economic Indicators page.
As the Arctic snow and ice melts, more of the sun’s energy is absorbed rather than reflected back to space. Thus temperatures around the world rise, as the Arctic is less able to act as the global refrigerator.
When the Arctic is abnormally warm, as it has been in recent decades, it often leads to a more meandering jet stream. A wavy jet stream can bring lingering hot and dry conditions to the Middle East and northern Africa, yielding, among other consequences, heatwaves, drought and crop failure. Heat is not only associated with drought, however.
For each degree (Celsius) that the planet warms, the atmosphere is able to hold 7% more moisture, leading to more devastating precipitation in areas already experiencing significant seasonal monsoons and stronger cyclones.
Additionally, this added moisture contributes to wet conditions that are favourable for the breeding of disease-carrying pathogens, creating a heightened risk for vector-borne diseases.
Greenland is rapidly losing ice mass, which is the world’s largest contributor to sea level rise. The northern island contains the equivalent of 7.4m of sea level rise, of which at least 27cm is irreversibly committed due to destabilisation of the ice cap (Box et al., 2022).
Approximately 1.4 million people within 15 Western and Central African countries were affected by flooding in 2021 while 2.7 million people were affected in 2020 within the same region (OCHA, 2021). The 2021 floods displaced about 400,000 people in 12 countries with about 300 fatalities. As expected, these floods highlight pre-existing vulnerabilities within the affected countries.
The countries most impacted in 2021 includes Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Niger. Apart from human fatalities, flooding also has food security implications. Floods inundate crop fields, pastures and livestock reducing crop and animal yields. Floods affect food availability, access, utility and stability, amplifying food insecurity concerns. In Niger, during the 2021 rainy season, flash floods caused by torrential rains led to 7,000 hectares of cultivable land being destroyed, and 10,000 livestock dying, similarly, flash floods have destroyed more than 6,000 hectares of crops in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021 (OCHA, 2021).
Global warming, exacerbated by the melting Arctic, is leading to economic losses around the world. By 2050, Ghana’s GDP is expected to be 24.3% below 2020 levels (Oxford Economics, 2022). These losses stem from a decrease in productivity, reductions in agriculture, and increased health costs, among other factors.
Concerning rising health costs, this warming may make conditions more favourable for vector- and water-borne pathogens (Ryan et al., 2020), which are significant causes of death in subtropical Africa (World Health Organization, 2022). Financial investments in malaria eradication increased from less than US$25 million in 2006 to over US$100 million by 2011. Nonetheless, to eliminate malaria – during the current decade in Ghana – a further US$961 million is needed (Shretta et al., 2020).
Eliminating malaria is expected to come with US$32 billion in economic gain, through reduced healthcare needs and increased productivity (Ibid.).
Ghana, like other African nations, is largely responsible for generating these funds. Western countries have routinely made financial pledges, such as promising US$25 billion specifically to assist the entire continent with climate adaptations, yet only US$55 million has actually materialised (Aljazeera, 2022).
Currently, there are three glaciated mountains in Africa (WMO, 2021). These include Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Kilimanjaro.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) observes that the current recession rates of the glaciers on these mountains are higher than the global average and further projects that should the recession continue at current rates, total deglaciation would occur by the 2040s (WMO, 2021).
These retreating glaciers may also alter the weather pattern in the region. Temperatures have continued to rise, as the ice has melted.
These mountains and glaciers are of eminent touristic importance bringing in much needed revenue to Eastern African economies such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, as such the economic impact of glacial loss on the local population could be severe (Science, 2006).
The impact of drought on agricultural yields in North Africa particularly, towards the end of the recent November to July wheat growing season cannot be overemphasised.
Cereals in North Africa are sowed or planted beginning in October. The planting season ends in January. The wide planting window is attributable to the variability in the moisture content of the soil from the autumn rains. By March to April, the crops flower and mature in April and May. Harvesting of the grains starts May in parts of Morocco and continues into June and early July in Algeria and Tunisia (Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture, 2022).
An assessment conducted in May 2022 suggests wheat and barley yields of less than 50% of the 5-year average in Morocco, and 20% below the 5-year average in Algeria (EU Science Hub, 2022). These reductions in yields are largely attributed to poor rainfall.
Food security in the MENA region is already fragile. The region is highly dependent on food imports, as the agricultural sector cannot produce enough to meet domestic demand. According to the 2022 FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, 500 000 people in Libya (about 7% of the population) need food assistance (FAO, 2022).
“The Nile Delta is one of the three most vulnerable areas to the sea level rise threat in the world” (Solynem & Monan, 2020).
The Mediterranean city of Alexandria with a population of more than 5 million people and a UNESCO World Heritage site faces rising risks from flooding and erosion caused by the rising sea level (Hemeda, 2021).
Other Egyptian cities at risk of rising sea levels include Port Said, Damietta, and Rosetta. Some of these cities have been hosting emergency archaeological digs to spare Nubian artefacts from places like Abu Simbel (UNESCO, n.d.).
Rising sea levels also result in saltwater intrusions contaminating freshwater sources and aquifers. Seawater intrusion in Egypt has been documented along the northwestern coast and in the Sinai Peninsula (Eissa, de Dreuzy and Parker, 2018).
Encroaching water is threatening to make Egypt uninhabitable by 2100 and risking country-wide fresh water shortages by 2025 (Stanley and Clemente, 2017).
Starvation is looming in some communities in East Africa due to the ongoing four-season droughts. Rainfall within the last four seasons has been very low impacting agricultural yields in these parts of the continent.
The October-December 2020, March-May 2021, October-December 2021 and March-May 2022 seasons were all marred by below-average rainfall (OCHA, 2022).
This has heavily impacted rain fed agriculture in large parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. The rainy season between March-May 2022 season is predicted to be the driest on record within the Horn of Africa (OCHA, 2022).
The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.