Devastating East African drought made more likely by climate change

Mar 15, 2013

In 2011 a powerful drought gripped East Africa. The failure of both the 2010 fall rains and the 2011 spring rains caused a drought that, stacked on an already unstable political climate, caused a famine that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Whenever an extreme weather event strikes a population—a drought, a hurricane, or a powerful flood—questions arise as to whether ongoing global climate change is complicit.

Most scientists, when confronted with such questions, suggest that no one act of weather can be attributed to the long-term statistical shifts that make up a change in climate. The nascent field of event attribution, however, is seeking to provide a more satisfying answer to this question. Using climate modeling techniques, researchers estimate how the probability or magnitude of a specific extreme event—in this case, the failure of the East African rains—was affected by climate change.

Comparing modeled East African precipitation patterns in a world affected by anthropogenic forcings against a climate change–free scenario, Lott et al. find that the probability of failure of the 2011 East African spring rains was increased by climate change, though the various models used disagreed on the exact size of the increase. The authors suggest that the reduction of the spring rains hinged on the rise in caused by anthropogenic climate change.

They find that the failure of the 2010 fall rains, however, was due not to anthropogenic climate change but to the ongoing La Niña conditions.

Explore further: US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

More information: Can the 2011 East African drought be attributed to human-induced climate change? Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/grl.50235, 2013 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50235/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global warming may have fueled Somali drought

Mar 15, 2013

Global warming may have contributed to low rain levels in Somalia in 2011 where tens of thousands died in a famine, research by British climate scientists suggests.

La Nina returns, bringing more severe weather: US

Sep 08, 2011

The weather phenomenon known as La Nina is returning for another season, likely bringing more drought, heavy rains and severe weather to some parts of the world, US forecasters said Thursday.

Crop failures set to increase under climate change

Oct 07, 2010

Large-scale crop failures like the one that caused the recent Russian wheat crisis are likely to become more common under climate change due to an increased frequency of extreme weather events, a new study shows.

La Nina caused global sea level drop

Oct 29, 2012

The 2011 La Niña was so strong that it caused global mean sea level to drop by 5 millimeters (0.2 inches), a new study shows. Since the early 1990s, sea level has been rising by about 3 millimeters (0.1 inches) per year, ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 14

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ScooterG
2 / 5 (12) Mar 16, 2013
"Whenever an extreme weather event strikes a population—a drought, a hurricane, or a powerful flood"

There's that word again - "extreme". It's useful when trying to whip the AGW emos into a frothy lather.
Maggnus
4 / 5 (8) Mar 16, 2013
Tripe and fallacy. The word is used to describe unusually srtong events, in other words "extreme weather". That includes all of the strongest events and is not "used" as intimated by scooter.

Jeepers Scooter, is EVERYTHING a conspiracy to you?
ScooterG
1.8 / 5 (10) Mar 16, 2013
Tripe and fallacy. The word is used to describe unusually srtong events, in other words "extreme weather". That includes all of the strongest events and is not "used" as intimated by scooter.

Jeepers Scooter, is EVERYTHING a conspiracy to you?


Libs in motion:
http://www.livele...62344081

As I said, "extreme" is difficult to define, and used to invoke emotion (the elixor of the liberal's life).

Not a conspiracy, as I have stated. Just a bunch of sheep blindly following the sheep in front - hell, you don't even know who it is you follow. All you know is that your eyes are focused on the backside of the sheep in front of you.

deepsand
2.5 / 5 (11) Mar 17, 2013
Tripe and fallacy. The word is used to describe unusually srtong events, in other words "extreme weather". That includes all of the strongest events and is not "used" as intimated by scooter.

Jeepers Scooter, is EVERYTHING a conspiracy to you?


Libs in motion:
http://www.livele...62344081

As I said, "extreme" is difficult to define, and used to invoke emotion (the elixor of the liberal's life).

Not a conspiracy, as I have stated. Just a bunch of sheep blindly following the sheep in front - hell, you don't even know who it is you follow. All you know is that your eyes are focused on the backside of the sheep in front of you.

Or, in your case, with your eyes focused on your own ass. How else to explain your continually going in circles?
VendicarE
3.3 / 5 (7) Mar 17, 2013
ScooTard is complicit in mass death.

"There's that word again - "extreme"" - ScooTard

Soon he will be complicit in mass murder.
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 17, 2013
ScooTard is complicit in mass death.

Soon he will be complicit in mass murder.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (10) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing
deepsand
2.5 / 5 (11) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
antigoracle
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Another brilliant response from the Turd that exits the AnalOrifice.
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Another brilliant response from the Turd that exits the AnalOrifice.

How very self-descriptive. Nice to see that you recognize yourself for what you are.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Here you go Turd
http://www.telegr...998.html
deepsand
2.2 / 5 (10) Mar 18, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Here you go Turd
http://www.telegr...998.html

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 19, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Here you go Turd
http://www.telegr...998.html

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Here you go ReTurd - http://www.uoguel...tick.pdf
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 20, 2013
With global temperature actually decreasing since 1998, the desperation of the GW Alarmist Turds is ever increasing

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.
-- deepsandTurd

Here you go Turd
http://www.telegr...998.html

Another steaming heap from AnalOrifice.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

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.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.