Impacts of climate change on water resources in southern Africa: A review
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
University of KwaZulu Natal, Centre for Water Resources Research, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa; Climate Studies, Modeling and Environmental Health, CSIR Natural Resources and Environment, Building 1, Corner Carlow and Rustenburg Roads, Emmarentia 2195, South Africa
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is consensus that the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases will result in climate change which will cause the sea level to rise, increased frequency of extreme climatic events including intense storms, heavy rainfall events and droughts. This will increase the frequency of climate-related hazards, causing loss of life, social disruption and economic hardships. There is less consensus on the magnitude of change of climatic variables, but several studies have shown that climate change will impact on the availability and demand for water resources. In southern Africa, climate change is likely to affect nearly every aspect of human well-being, from agricultural productivity and energy use to flood control, municipal and industrial water supply to wildlife management, since the region is characterised by highly spatial and temporally variable rainfall and, in some cases, scarce water resources. Vulnerability is exacerbated by the region's low adaptive capacity, widespread poverty and low technology uptake. This paper reviews the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in southern Africa. The outcomes of this review include highlighting studies on detected climate changes particularly focusing on temperature and rainfall. Additionally, the impacts of climate change are highlighted, and respective studies on hydrological responses to climate change are examined. The review also discusses the challenges in climate change impact analysis, which inevitably represents existing research and knowledge gaps. Finally the paper concludes by outlining possible research areas in the realm of climate change impacts on water resources, particularly knowledge gaps in uncertainty analysis for both climate change and hydrological modelling. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Energy utilization; Flood control; Greenhouse gases; Hydrology; Rain; Sea level; Uncertainty analysis; Water resources; Water supply; Agricultural productivity; Atmospheric greenhouse; Hydrological modelling; Hydrological response; Industrial water supply; Intergovernmental panel on climate changes; Southern Africa; Uncertainty; Climate change; atmospheric structure; climate change; climate effect; hydrological modeling; rainfall; uncertainty analysis; water resource; Southern Africa