Sunday, 7 December 2014

NEWSLETTER #14 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS

       Volume 3, Issue 3, July-September 2014


CONTENTS

  • Chair's Foreword
  • How Will Climate Change Affect Africa?
  • Earth Science Book Review
  • Earth Science Events
  • References, Selected Reading

Foreword by the Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists*

Welcome to the fourteenth issue of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES) newsletter, now issued quarterly.
   In the current issue we look at how climate change will affect africa, as reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report on Africa Climate Change.


How Will Climate Change Affect Africa?1

How will climate change affect Africa? There is surely no easy answer to this question. However, the consensus of mainstream scientists is that Africa will be one of the continents to be most adversely affected by climate change.  African scientists, must be fiercely objective about this and not allow the agenda to be driven by propaganda, in the sense that media hysteria2 is easily whipped up regarding Africa’s need - yet again - to be rescued from impending doom.  This is not of Africa’s doing. It is the emissions of the industrialised nations that have contributed most to the world's change of climate. Press articles such as those of the London  Independent, which give the impression that out of everybody on the planet, it will be Africans who  will suffer most from climate change, can be misleading.      Although it is apparent from the data that Africa will be among the most affected, it does not mean that Africa is the single worst affected region, and therefore the region that should be singled out for  some form of foreign intervention such as AGRA (the so called Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)  or the G8's so called "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition" which appear to see the omen of climate change and the forecasted food insecurity as an excuse to aggressively promote the introduction of GM crop technology3 .
   Africa climate change predictions show shifting patterns of rainfall intensity and frequency. In East Africa there is predicted to be more erratic rainfall and drought periods. In recent years researchers have noted that droughts  occurred more frequently, changing from occurring every 7 years to perhaps every 3 years. One also expects to see more intense rainfall which may be less frequent.
 The report of the IPCC expresses the view that Africa will be one of the most affected continents by climate change.  It takes the view that Africa will suffer adverse affects and that the situation will be worsened by multiple stresses, such as poverty, limited access to capital, ecosystem degradation,  lack of ability to adapt and complex disasters and conflicts.
   Climate change is expected to threaten African food and water security, with food yield in some countries possible falling by 50%. This is accompanied by an expected 90% drop in crop revenues. There is also an expectation that climate change will aggravate already existing water stresses on the African population already experiencing stress due to water shortage. Due to climate change, populations previously not suffering will begin to suffer water stresses. About 25% of Africa’s population are already experiencing high water stress. By 2020 the population at risk will number  between 75 and 250 million, according to the IPCC report.
   Climate change combined with the phenomenon of deforestation is a threat to Africa’s forest ecosystems and will lead to greater temperature rises. Some studies predict that Africa will have temperature rises of 1.5-3 degrees. Among other changes, scientists expect that sea level rises will lead to flooding of low lying coastal areas.
When we study the rainfall patterns expected as a result of climate change, we find a quite complex picture. In West Africa, we see, from a study of past rainfall  from 1931-1960 and then from 1968-1990  a 20-40%  decline in annual rainfall. In the tropical rainforest zones, we also see rainfall decline, with 4% decline in West Africa, 3% in North Congo (DRC) and 4% in South Congo in the period 1968-1990. However, rainfall along the Guinea coast during the last 30 years has increased by 10%! It is as if the rainfall is being shifted elsewhere or redistributed about the continent.
   In southern Africa, we have seen evidence in recent times of increasingly heavy rainfall with evidence of changes in seasonality. Whilst in recent decades in East Africa we have seen a dipole rainfall pattern, with rainfall increasing over the northern sector; and rainfall decreasing over the southern sector of the region.   We must take into account the effects of climate regime changes which affect rainfall variability (e.g. the oscillation of cold and warm air that is ENSO – El nino Southern Oscillation as well as the winds in the troposphere and upper atmosphere above Africa, named respectively  as African easterly jet (AEJ) and the tropical easterly jet (TEJ), as well as the sea surface temperature (SST) over the Indian ocean which has been linked to the drying out of the sahel region since the 1970s). Studies also highlight the importance of vegetation cover in determining climate, since its presence or absence creates a dynamic feedback effect on rainfall. An immediate concern is ecosystem degradation and the rate of deforestation taking place in the Congo (DRC), which ultimately leads to temperature rises where deforestation occurs. 
   Africa, as we have discovered recently is a continent with vast groundwater resources. One weakness of the study - which is a major weakness -  as it acknowledges, is that it fails to look at how climate change will impact on African groundwater reserves, which will be of concern to those many Africans who rely on groundwater supplies. Given that the majority of Africans (up to 80 %) access their fresh water from groundwater sources, this is a major failing in the study.    However, there is enough evidence to support the alarm bells being sounded about water stress. We note for instance the visible reduction in the water levels of Lake Victoria in recent times, which is believed by local people to be due to  local factors: winds from the land moving across the lake; although the IPCC prefer to explain this as being the result of a  rise in global temperature4


Earth Science Book Review 

Soil Erosion and Conservation  by R.P.C. Morgan
3rd edition, published in 2005  by Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, UK.



This is a classic text in soil erosion that is comprehensive in its coverage.  Professor Roy Morgan covers the distribution of soil erosion, the processes and mechanics of erosion, the factors influencing erosion, erosion assessment, soil erosion modelling, the measurement of soil erosion, soil erosion control, and crop and vegetation management. In the text, Professor Morgan aims to base strategies to tackle soil erosion on a thorough understanding of soil erosion processes. In this vein, the latest reprint of the text has included updates on the most recent research in field. It is an essential text for those studying soil erosion as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate studies in geography, environmental science, agriculture, agricultural engineering, hydrology, soil science, and civil engineering.






Earth Science Events

3-9 November 2014
The African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) organizes its seventh conference under the title:
Earth Sciences and Climate Change: Challenges to Development in Africa
Venue: Windhoek, Namibia
PREAMBLE
AAWG supports the development of Earth Scientists in Africa by providing opportunities for networking and applying science for the sustainable development challenges the continent is facing. Opportunities for earth scientists are great, extending from traditional mineral extraction to environmental management such as climate change adaptation, prevention of natural hazards, water scarcity, and ensuring access to quality earth science training. To assist African governments to realize opportunities, AAWG activities are developed through a participatory approach. International conferences have been organized to address various issues that affect the African continent, to which Earth Scientists can make a contribution. The 7th AAWG conference is being organized, taking into consideration the current challenges the continent is facing in view of the changing climatic conditions, which is threatening sustainable development agenda in Africa.
CONFERENCE SUB-THEMES
Women and climate change
Earth Science: History
Earth and its Dynamics
Earth and Life
Pedology and Pedogenesis
Global Warming and Climate Change
Earth and Ecology
Medical Geology
Earth Science and Hydrology
Applications of Earth Sciences
Petrology
Earth and Environmental Science
Archaeology and paleontology
Geoheritage, Geotourism and climate change
Earth Sciences and local communities


22-23 November 2014
3rd Annual International Conference on Geological and Earth Sciences
Venue: Fort Canning Hotel, Singapore.

Scientific studies of the Earth System are generally oriented towards understanding three broad and inter-related issues, namely: the origin and evolution of the Earth through geological time span of about 4.55 Ga; the formation of earth resources and their distribution in space and time; and the earth processes in land-ocean-atmosphere interfaces.
The evolution of the solid earth witnessed several bench mark events like core-mantle separation within 50 Ma since the origin of Earth, when bulk of the siderophile elements sank down to the core and the resultant thermal energy initiated the mantle convection, followed by extraction of continental and oceanic crust from the bulk silicate Earth. Mantle convection is believed to have played a significant role in several geodynamic processes including sea floor spreading, and the making and breaking of super-continents through the geological time. The formation of hydrosphere and atmosphere paved the way for the origin of life and its proliferation in water bodies and landmass from about 2500 Ma onwards.
Human civilization has always relied on various Earth resources for survival, growth and development. Geoscientists have made significant contribution in understanding the genesis and spatial distribution of resources of industrial and ore minerals, fossil fuels and groundwater. Based on this knowledge several geological, geochemical and geophysical exploration methods have been developed and these are successfully practiced for discovery of earth resources.
Earth’s surface processes on land, ocean and their interfaces with atmosphere have a direct bearing on landforms, climate, rainfall and vegetation. Understanding these processes helps in supporting agriculture, and zonation and mitigation of several natural hazards.

23-24 November
Hydrocarbons, Energies and Environment (HCEE) Seminar
Venue: University of Kasdi Merbah Ouargla, Algeria

Since the oil crisis of 1973 all world countries, including developed countries highly dependent of hydrocarbons, have become aware of the consequence of depletion of fossil energy sources and are trying to diversity through scientific research, their sources of renewable energy
   The potential of the Algeria in hydrocarbons can ensure its future needs, but beyond 2040, it will face enormous difficulties to meet its internal needs in this area, hence the need to put in place the mechanisms to ensure a progressive contribution of renewable in the energy economy, and solar origin specifically. It should also be noted the possibility of exploration of shale gas, which the Algeria seems well placed in this fields, provided that they master the techniques of exploitation of this resource and respect the environment.
The exploitation of hydrocarbon resources can generate consequences that can harm the environment through waste.
Information: Dr. A. Dobbi, faculty of hydrocarbons, renewable energy, and the science of the Earth and the Universe.
University Kasdi Merbah-Ouargla- ALGERIA
Mob: + 213771-60-23-68……
E-mail : Geolcol 2010@yahoo.fr


2-3 March 2015
University of Venda hosts:
First National Conference on Disaster Risk Science and Management: South Africa's Response in a Changing Global Environment
Venues: (1) Conference, 3-4 March: Protea Hotel Ranch Resort, Polokwane, LIMPOPO, South Africa; (2) Pre conference exhibition 25-27 February: University of Venda, Thoyhoyandou, South Africa.

Disaster Risk Science refers to knowledge that is geared towards disaster risk reduction and management. Every year natural disasters are ravaging communities across many nations in the world. In recent times we have witnessed disasters associated with climate change and variability in the form of hazards related to severe weather events. Human induced hazards are also affecting millions of people; the worst affected being the most vulnerable in society. Disasters affecting African countries include extreme temperatures, drought, floods and storms. These disasters impede the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Vulnerability, lack of information, lack of resources, weak or non-existent early warning systems and fragile infrastructure all contribute to disaster situations. Disasters affect livelihoods, cause losses in lives, assets, the economy and the environment. The capacity to cope with disasters is further accentuated by population growth, disease outbreaks conflict and civil unrest. Different countries in Africa are devising various responses including prioritising training, research and community engagements. An integrated and inter-displinary approach is required to cope with these disasters. However skills and knowledge on disaster risk science, risk reduction and risk management is lacking both locally and internationally. Building skills and knowledge in this area is a requirement that tallies with the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. Priority for Action 3 of this framework requires that we “use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. In response the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Venda is developing an undergraduate program, research activities and community engagements to meet this need.

2-13th march 2015
Summer School on Climate System Prediction and the Delivery of Actionable Regional Climate Information
Venue: The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Dakar, Senegal.

19-21st March 2015
Association of African Women in the Geosciences
Day of earth Sciences in Africa  and the Middle East
The annual event started in 2012 by AAWG is in its third year.


22-24 June 2015
MDC International Research Conference – Research: An Imperative for Economic Reforms and Development
Venue: Enugu State, Nigeria.
The conference provides a platform for the international community to share proven and innovative ideas on economic reform and development.

References and Selected Reading

  1. Boko, M., I. Niang, A. Nyong. C. Vogel, A. Githeko, M. Medany, B. Osman-Basha, R. Tabo and P. Yanda, 2007: Africa Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani,J.P. Palutikof, P.J van der Linden, and C.E Hanson , Eds., Cambridge University Press,Cambbridge , UK, 433-467.
  2. Independent (London), 20th Dec 2006,, "Africa will be worst hit by climate change", http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/africa-will-be-worst-hit-by-climate-change-423143.html.
  3. "Dysfunctional Philanthropy: Gates and AGRA". http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12606-dysfunctional-philanthropy-gates-and-agra and "Countering Africa's Green Revolution", http://www.irinnews.org/report/98378/countering-africa-s-green-revolution. See also: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/18/g8-new-alliance-condemned-new-colonialism
  4. http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/experts-warn-of-dire-consequences-as-lake-victorias-water-levels-drop-further/
  5. Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.
  6. A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”: http://www.iah.org/downloads/occpub/IAH_ruralwater.pdf
  7. Link to Journal of African Earth Sciences: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-african-earth-sciences/

*Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists: Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey  (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed ( Egypt).



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