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WHAT IS CLIMATE SCIENCE?
Climate science is the study of a location’s climate. Climate is defined as the average weather condition in a certain place, measured over a long period of time.
Weather is a short-term event, but climate describes long term patterns. For example, if somewhere is very hot most days, it is said to have a warm climate. But, even places with warm climates can sometimes experience cold weather, if it is cold on a few days in a year.
Scientists study many different aspects of the climate, for example, temperature, wind patterns and rainfall. Over time, we can record patterns in these measurements to monitor how the climate is changing.
WHY IS CLIMATE SCIENCE IMPORTANT?
A lot of places have seen big changes in their climates in recent decades. This climate change is caused by human activity across the world. Man-made inventions like factories and cars release many harmful gasses into the air, which is changing the climate.
Africa is especially vulnerable to climate change. In many African countries, agriculture is a key source of income. Climate change affects the temperature and amount of rain a place gets, so growing crops will become very difficult. This will make it hard for farmers to earn money, and food will become increasingly scarce.
Changing climates could also make certain diseases more common. For example, large outbreaks of malaria are more likely to occur after a lot of rain has fallen in one area, and if temperatures increase. This is because the parasites that spread malaria survive better in these conditions.
There are two main ways that we can tackle the climate crisis. The first is by reducing the rate at which the climate is changing. We can do this by reducing pollution, recycling more and by using renewable energy sources. The second way to tackle the climate crisis is to prepare for the changes that are already inevitable.
AFRICA’S CLIMATE SCIENTISTS
Africa is often overlooked when climate scientists from other places do research. Because Africa has relatively few climate scientists, there is not much information about what Africa’s climate was like in the past. This makes it harder to see how it is changing today.
But, many groups are working to change that. For example, Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) is an international research project that aims to better understand African climate change. It consists of five main research groups and has projects based across Africa.
In Senegal, scientists are working with farmers and politicians to help manage the impact of climate change on agriculture.
In Kisumu, Kenya, scientists are investigating how climate change is affecting sanitation in cities. For example, a decrease in rainfall could make it difficult to provide clean drinking water, or to safely dispose of sewage. Researchers are discovering how to plan around these changes to ensure nobody’s health is put at risk by climate change.
Many other projects are also taking place around Africa. The FCFA aims to use their scientific discoveries to help stop the negative effects of climate change.