‘Poor countries to bear brunt of climate change’

Friday May 20 2016

By LILIAN NAMAGEMBE

KAMPALA- Poor countries, including Uganda, should brace themselves for extreme daily heat catapulted by climate change, a new research by an international team including the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom, shows.

Wealthier countries, according to research, will not be severely affected though. The research findings published Monday in the Environmental Research Letters, singles out countries in the Horn of Africa and West Africa that brace the heat.

Dr Manoj Joshi from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Most of the poorest people in the world live in tropical latitudes, while most of the world’s wealthiest people live in mid-latitude climates.

“We know that low latitude regions have much less variability in day-to-day temperatures when compared with the mid-latitudes, which means the ‘signal’ of climate change emerges quite quickly, and because of this, the frequency of extreme hot days increases rapidly too,” he said.

The development comes barely a month after Nebbi, Gulu and Tororo districts recorded the hottest temperatures ever, according to data from Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA).

The said districts recorded 38.1°C, 37.5°C and 37.2°C degrees respectively, making them the hottest districts in the country during the dry spell of February to March this year. 32°C is the normal temperatures for Nebbi, 30.2°C for Gulu and 29°C for Tororo.

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The senior meteorologist at UNMA, Mr James Bataze, attributed the rising temperatures to global warming where human activities such as setting up industries, agriculture, vehicles, among others, emit dangerous gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

Lead author Luke Harrington, a PhD student at the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, said previous studies have shown a link between rising global temperatures and increases in the frequency of local heat extremes, while others have shown a clear relationship between the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere and rising temperatures.

The team used state-of-the-art climate models to estimate cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and subsequent changes to extreme local daily temperatures over the 20th and 21st century.

Meaning of the research
Dr Erich Fischer of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said: “What our research shows is that heat extremes do not increase evenly everywhere, but are becoming much more frequent more quickly for countries nearer the equator – these happen to be disproportionately poorer nations, including those in the Horn of Africa and West Africa.”

lnamagembe@ug.nationmedia.com

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