Back to Articles | « Previous | Next »
Home » Deforestation increases frequency of thunderstorms locally in West Africa: Study

Deforestation increases frequency of thunderstorms locally in West Africa: Study

Deforestation increases frequency of thunderstorms locally in West Africa: Study

Study shows storm frequency has doubled in the region in 30 years

The frequency of thunderstorms in some fast-growing African coastal cities has doubled over the past 30 years, many of which are related to the impact of deforestation on the region’s climate, according to a new study.

The study led by the United Kingdom Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) revealed that more frequent storm activity in coastal areas is a second, previously unrecognised, way in which deforestation can increase flooding.

This study examined southern West Africa, a coastal region where deforestation has been ongoing since 1900 within a 300-km coastal belt.

It analysed three decades of satellite data from southern West Africa to see how meteorological patterns changed as a result of deforestation through changes in heating and humidity of the atmosphere.

The removal of vegetation increases rainwater runoff and landslides, which happened in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, in August 2017 when 1,100 people died.

There are two rainy seasons (March-June and September-November) along the south coast of southern West Africa (March-June and September-November), with a little dry season in July and August.

The little dry season coincides with the peak of the west African monsoon, which brings heavy rain further north in West Africa.

The researchers found that the removal of large areas of woodland greatly exacerbated the effects of global warming in the coastal areas of the region, which includes Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.

In deforested areas, the frequency of storms has doubled since 1991, but the increase in forested areas has been around 40 per cent.

Deforestation is not the only driver of land surface temperature (LST) trends. At small scales, urbanisation strongly increases LST, affecting parts of Southern Nigeria in particular.


Study shows storm frequency has doubled in the region in 30 years
Sticker