As winter takes hold over large parts of South Africa, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has appealed to the citizens to keep warm as a cold weather pattern unfolds in the coming days.
The South African Weather Services (SAWS) has confirmed that a cold front is expected to arrive over the Western Cape. This will result in significant temperature drops in most parts of the country from Sunday.
The Weather Services has warned that as the cold front arrives in the Cape, localised flooding may occur in places in the Cape Metropole, Overberg and the Cape Winelands.
“The ability of the SAWS to predict extreme weather conditions thus improving the ability of emergency services and the public to prepare timeously to expected inclement weather is the result of the collaboration between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Weathers Services in the developing of the National Framework for Climate Services,” the department said on Sunday.
The Framework aims to coordinate and offer science based information, weather forecasts, climate predictions and climate projections that can empower decision makers to manage the risks and opportunities of climate variability and change.
The department, in collaboration with the provinces, have just concluded the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment to climate change in nine provinces and associated response plans. Implementation of response plans is underway across the provinces.
Long Term Adaptation Scenarios conducted by the DEA, show that climate change impacts on South Africa are likely to be felt primarily through effects on water resources.
“Projected impacts are due to changes in rainfall and evaporation rate, but hydrological modelling approaches are essential for translating these into potential water resource impacts,” the department said.
Future climate scenarios for southern Africa project a higher frequency of flooding and drought extremes.
The range of extremes is significantly worse under the global emissions scenario that shows no global greenhouse gas emission reductions.
“Under a wetter future climate scenario, significant increases in runoff would result in increased flooding, human health risks, ecosystem disturbance and aesthetic impacts. Drier future climate scenarios would result in reduced surface water availability, but would not exclude the risk of extreme flooding events,” the department said.
The DEA is working towards the development of a National Adaptation Strategy which is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of society, the economy and the environment to the effects of climate change, strengthening resilience of the socio-economic and environmental system and enhancing South Africa’s capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“In light of the severe weather warning for the coming days, I would like to appeal to all those people living in low-lying areas of the Western Cape to prepare for possible flooding, and to all other citizens to unpack their jerseys and blankets to keep warm,” said Minister Molewa.