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Warming Africa: Continent experienced fourth-warmest April this year

A camel caravan in the Sahara. Photo: Wikipedia A camel caravan in the Sahara. Photo: Wikipedia

Africa experienced its fourth-warmest April since 1910 in 2021, with a temperature anomaly of 1.48 degrees Centigrade, according to latest figures by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A temperature anomaly is the departure from the average temperature, positive or negative, over a certain period.

Temperatures were much above the average in parts of northern and southern Africa, the NOAA noted on its website.

Down To Earth analysed the figures given by NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information on the NOAA website. A look at the temperature anomalies indicated that Africa had heated up the most in the last two decades.

Six of the ten warmest Aprils in Africa since 1910 have occurred in the recent decade (2011-2021), the data showed. In the previous decade (2000-2010), three other Aprils were very warm.

10 warmest April since 1910 have been in past 22 years (or two recent decades )
Year Anomaly (1910-2000 base period) Rank: Warmest April in Africa (since 1910)
1998 1.77°C 3
3 of the 10 warmest April between 2000-2010
2003 1.18°C 8
2005 1.13°C 9
2010 1.97°C 1
6 of the 10 warmest April between 2011-2021
2016 1.89°C 2
2017 1.23°C 7
2018 1.12°C 10
2019 1.29°C 6
2020 1.47°C 5
2021 1.48°C 4th warmest

The anomaly in temperature for the month of April ranged from 0.61-1.97°C during the period 1998-2021.

April 2010 has been the hottest since 1910. The surface temperature in the continent during that month was 1.97°C above the average.

This was followed by April 2016 (1.86°C above the average) and April 1998 (1.77°C above the average). These are now followed by April 2021. A minimum anomaly of 0.61°C was recorded in April 2008.

What it means

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change had warned that Africa would warm in its landmark assessment report Climate Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability for Africa published in 2018.

Increasing temperatures and extreme weather events attributed to climate change are a threat to health, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa.

The continent loses $7-15 billion a year to climate change. This will increase by at least three-times (up to $50 billion per year) by 2040 according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund.

Akinwumi A Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, had highlighted the irony of it all at the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by the United States in April 2021:

Africa has contributed the least to rising temperatures but has suffered the worst impacts of climate change, in the form of droughts, floods and plagues like the recent locust invasion in East Africa.

Climate change is an existential threat to the continent even as it battles the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Africa needs to strategically focus on coping plans and climate-resilient development, even as revival after the pandemic will remain challenging.

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