Climate change has doubled the chances of South African flooding which killed 435 people

Parts of South Africa experienced more than 350mm of rain in two days, causing destructive flooding in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, killing at least 435 people and damaging properties worth approximately $ 1.57 billion.

The port of Durban, Africa’s largest port, was forced to shut down due to floods, causing disruption in supply chains.

“Most of the people who died in the floods lived in informal settlements, so once again we are seeing how climate change has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable,” said Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. leading the World Weather Attribution (WWA) project.

“However, the flooding of the port of Durban, where African minerals and crops are shipped around the world, also reminds us that there are no boundaries for climate impacts,” he said. “What happens in one place can have substantial consequences elsewhere.”

A general view of containers that fell into a container yard following heavy rain, winds and floods in Durban on 12 April 2022.

Scientists analyzed meteorological data and computer simulations to compare today’s climate, which is about 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than temperatures before industrialization, with the climate of the past.

They also concluded that an episode of extreme rainfall like the one in April could now occur about once every 20 years.

“Without human-caused global warming, such an event would only occur once every 40 years, so it has become about twice as common due to greenhouse gas emissions,” the group said in a statement.

He added that these extreme rainfall events are expected to be 4-8% heavier than in the past.

“If we don’t reduce emissions and keep global temperatures below 1.5 ° C, many extreme weather events will become increasingly destructive,” said Izidine Pinto of WWA, of the Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town. . “We need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a new reality where floods and heat waves are more intense and harmful.”

Scientists have warned that the world must try to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C to avoid some irreversible impacts of climate change.

In southeastern Africa, warming by 2 ° C is projected to result in an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rains and floods and an increase in the intensity of strong tropical cyclones, associated with more abundant rainfall.