South Africans should expect more heat waves‚ wildfires and temperature increases of up to 5C°.
These climate patterns will be underscored by an increase in extreme weather events like droughts and floods‚ according to scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The experts compiled their findings in the second edition of the CSIR’s South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas‚ which was launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
According to the report‚ South Africa is projected to become warmer and the increase in average temperature is projected to occur in association with an increase in very hot days (when the temperature exceeds 35°C) and heatwave events.
“The occurrence of fires is [also] closely linked with climate‚ and increases in temperature combined with an increase in dry spells in some areas may result in wildfires affecting larger areas and fires of increased intensity and severity‚” the report read.
Emma Archer‚ chief scientist in the CSIR’s environment division‚ said South Africa was already experiencing year-long temperature increases and that the interior of the country would be the worst affected.
One of the implications was that South Africa could expect more days of “heat stress”‚ which would have implications for humans‚ agriculture and livestock.
“For example‚ in the livestock industry‚ they can be very vulnerable to heat stress and it’s a very important part of our agricultural portfolio‚” said Archer.
“And then in urban areas heat stress can have significant implications for the [wellbeing] of humans.”
Archer warned that areas like the Western Cape would have to be very cautious‚ and that it would have to look at infrastructure and future planning to develop an approach that is “quite conservative”.
“It needs to take into account that we may experience more droughts in the future and look at how we can make our sectors in those areas more resilient‚” she said.
“Regardless of what happens with the winter rainfall‚ increased temperature means more evaporation. So we need to take that into account.”
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