Environment

Climate change might turn Ethiopia into a food-exporting nation

Climate change might turn Ethi...
The Blue Nile River Basin in Ethiopia might experience increased water flow as a result of climate change
The Blue Nile River Basin in Ethiopia might experience increased water flow as a result of climate change
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The Blue Nile River Basin in Ethiopia might experience increased water flow as a result of climate change
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The Blue Nile River Basin in Ethiopia might experience increased water flow as a result of climate change

Climate change is expected to wreak all kinds of havoc on future weather systems, with experts predicting greater and more frequent storms, hurricanes, droughts and floods. But even the darkest clouds have some silver lining, and a new study closely examining its effects on Ethiopia's Blue Nile Basin has uncovered exactly that in the form of projected increases in rainfall, which could spur greater crop yields and large-scale hydro-power projects in the region.

The idea that climate change could bring more water to the region is actually not a new one. Earlier studies that used temperature and precipitation from climate modeling have predicted that the phenomenon could boost Ethiopia's water availability by 10 percent, but according to researchers at Virginia Tech, this was leaving out some vital information.

In what it describes as a first-of-its-kind study, the team combined hydrologic models with bias-corrected and downscaled data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to form a more complete picture of water flow at two key headwater basins in the Blue Nile Basin, which feeds as much as 66 percent of the Nile River flowing through Sudan and into Egypt.

It then looked at the predicted impact of climate change on the region over two particular time periods, 2041-2065 and 2075-2099. It says the analysis indicates that the two basins will experience increases in mean annual water flow of 22 to 27 percent, and that monsoon season will be extended by four to six weeks, potentially making growing seasons longer and perhaps allowing for two cycles of crops to be grown per year.

"It's interesting, because much of the Blue Nile Basin is well above 5,000 ft (1,524 m) in elevation, giving it pretty much an ideal climate for agriculture with low humidity, low disease and pest pressure, and potentially great water availability, which could spur development," said Zach Easton, associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.

But don't go firing up your six-liter V8 for the sake of Ethiopia's prosperity just yet. The study was also the first to look at the problem of sediment transport, which is a particular concern in the Blue Nile Basin where some of the world's highest erosion rates have been measured. The increase in water flow sounds like a good thing, but would also bring with it more sediment that could reduce the capacity and efficiency of dams, reservoirs and hydro-power projects.

"Greater water availability is certainly a positive outcome, but this is countered by more sediment," says Easton. "One way to combat that is through installing conservation practices on farms, for instance using cover crops and low- and no-till planting methods to make the soil healthier, more stable, and reduce erosion."

The research was published in the journal Climatic Change.

Source: Virginia Tech

6 comments
Jeff J Carlson
experts "models" predicting greater and more frequent storms, hurricanes, droughts and floods.
fixed that for you :)
MQ
NB. As soon as No-Till farming gets a mention, cue Monsanto's annual statement.
Global warming could do anything, this year/decade, and something altogether different next year/decade. It's all in the models, OR what they forgot to add (to the models).
McDesign
You're straying from the narrative.
All climate change bad.
Man die.
Rann Xeroxx
A warmer Earth is actually more "stable" as there is less differentiation between the equator and the poles. Hurricanes and storms are not becoming more frequent, they were far more frequent and powerful in the past.
Even more CO2 is better for greening the Earth and food production. The climate might change as some areas might get drier while others more wet. But this has always happened.
What has changed is the build up in areas that get damaged by these storms, such as flood zones and the sea side. Florida itself has been growing and growing since I was a kid and born there in the 60's.
Robert in Vancouver
When Al Gore made his movie he (and other self proclaimed experts) said we would have catastrophic weather events, flooding of coastal cities, massive droughts and heat waves if we didn't reduce CO2 by 20% by 2015. Well, we actually increased CO2 by 20% by 2015 and everything is just fine. In fact, there is more vegitation on Earth now than anytime in recorded history, the air is cleaner, and there have been fewer extreme weather events over the past 20 years than any other 20 year period before.
But the good news is that Al and his partners at Goldman Sachs made over $1 billion selling carbon credits to suckers all over the world and many others got rich from the man made global warming scam too.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Dessert irrigation blocks four to five times as much thermal emittance of the Earth as CO2 and methane. The six micron water band sits right on top of the daytime black body curve of the equatorial desserts.