Climate change 'threatens Nile, Limpopo rivers'

Nov 14, 2011
An aerial view shows the Nile river cutting through the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Rising global temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns could affect water flows on Africa's mighty Nile and Limpopo rivers, an agricultural research group says.

Rising global temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns could affect water flows on Africa's mighty Nile and Limpopo rivers, an agricultural research group said Monday.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a global think-tank, warned the changes could have major effects for countries that share the rivers -- raising the risk of conflicts erupting over water use, already a subject of often touchy regional relations.

Their study raised the greatest concerns for the Limpopo River Basin, including parts of Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and running through a region already chronically dry.

The findings were presented at the International Forum on Water and Food in Pretoria.

The group's projections found that between now and 2050 hotter weather and fewer rains could hurt food production and deepen poverty.

"We need to ask whether current agriculture development strategies in the Limpopo, which are predicated on current levels of , are in fact realistic for a climate future that may present new challenges and different opportunities," said Simon Cook, a scientist who worked on the project.

"In some parts of the Limpopo, even widespread adoption of innovations like drip irrigation may not be enough to overcome the negative on water availability," Cook added.

For the Nile, the researchers projected that increased could "reduce the water balance of the upper Blue Nile Basin."

That could affect regional talks on management of the river, after years of tensions over Ethiopia's plans for new dams, the researchers said.

"The new insights regarding the effect of on may indicate a need to revisit assumptions about water availability," said Alain Vidal, director of the group's water and food programme.

In rivers around the world, the study found that higher would make more water evaporate from rivers, which in most cases should be set off by increased rainfall.

But within river basins, changes could prove dramatic, and flip weather trends from wet to dry for regions that previously have known consistent patterns, it found.

"Such changes will create a management nightmare and require a much greater focus on adaptive approaches and long-term climate projections than historically have been necessary," said Vidal.

Explore further: Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rivers buckle under pressure from climate, dams

Mar 21, 2011

Climate change is likely to intensify the alarming rate of degradation of the world’s rivers and wetlands unless water resources are better managed, according to a special issue of the international scientific journal ...

Australia needs better plan for variable water future

Sep 29, 2010

The delivery of sustainable water supplies in Australia will require water managers and engineers to factor in a range of predicted variations in climate and long-term demand for water resources, according ...

Water supply shifts as global climate changes

Jun 15, 2009

Many of the world's great rivers are becoming less so. Yet in the Midwest, the wet is getting wetter. So says a study that finds global climate change shifting weather and water patterns around the planet.

Recommended for you

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

16 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

20 hours ago

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in ...

Snow is largely a no-show for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

20 hours ago

On March 1, 65 mushers and their teams of dogs left Anchorage, Alaska, on a quest to win the Iditarod—a race covering 1,000 miles of mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, tundra and coastline. According ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

21 hours ago

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Study shows less snowpack will harm ecosystem

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new study by CAS Professor of Biology Pamela Templer shows that milder winters can have a negative impact both on trees and on the water quality of nearby aquatic ecosystems, far into the warm growing season.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.