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Africa’s Disappearing Glaciers Signal ‘Irreversible’ Threat to Earth System: Report

Africa’s Disappearing Glaciers Signal ‘Irreversible’ Threat to Earth System: Report

The authors of a U.N. report urge greater investment in climate adaptation and weather services on the continent.
A new United Nations-backed report reveals the extent of Africa’s “disproportionate vulnerability” to the climate emergency, with the continent’s three glaciers expected to disappear entirely in the next two decades as the population faces the increasingly dire effects of the heating of the planet.
“Total deglaciation” of the glaciers of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is expected by the 2040s, while the Mount Kenya massif could lose its ice caps a decade sooner, “which will make it one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glacier cover due to human-induced climate change,” according to the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 3% by 2050.”

The loss of the three glaciers in East Africa, which are retreating at faster rates than the global average, “signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Administrative barriers” currently put long term observation efforts at the mountains’ summits at risk of being abandoned, according to the report by the WMO, the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa, and other agencies—but the authors noted that “investing in climate adaptation, early warning systems, and weather and climate services can pay off.”
“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 3% by 2050,” wrote Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the AUC. “This presents a serious challenge for climate adaptation and resilience actions because not only are physical conditions getting worse, but also the number of people being affected is increasing.”

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