Are the increasing rains in Soweto related to climate change? - Thando | WWF

Are the increasing rains in Soweto related to climate change? - Thando

Posted on
06 March 2009
Soweto recently witnessed rains that have never existed. Thing is it was raining from Jan till Feb most of the time but on the 25th the rain was worse. Houses collapsed and people were taken by the river.

We are not sure whether this was normal rain or something to do with climate change. This only happened in Soweto so people suspect a Tornado but it was worse than that. I dont know whether it was due to our negligence but if it was then we seriously need to preserve our earth and do something about it.

Submitted by: Thando Mazibuko

Unfortunately Thando, I have no direct idea. But as the South Pole warms the atmospheric currents become displaced from their usual trajectories, and they bring rain to where before there was scarcity.

Answer by: Prof. Dr Antonio Ruiz de Elvira, Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Alcala, and Chair of the Scientific Comittee of the European Climate Forum, Spain

While the rain experienced by Soweto was unusual, it was not in fact unprecedented at all. Most of the flooding occurred because the sewers had been allowed to clog up with garbage, the river had be allowed to silt up, and people had been permitted to build in a known flood zone.

There is a good physical argument that heavy rains will become more frequent as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, but whether this is specifically the case for Soweto and whether it will be realised are open questions. This incident highlights how we are often much more poorly adapted to current climate than we think we are, climate change or not.

Answer by: Dr Daithi Stone, Climate Systems Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, South Africa