Picture: Independent Media

Pretoria - As winter takes hold over large parts of South Africa, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has appealed to citizens to keep warm when 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," her department said in a statement on Sunday.

The SAWS had warned that as the cold front arrived in the Cape, localised flooding could occur in places in the Cape metropole, the 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 weather services in the developing of the national framework for climate services," the department said.

The framework aimed to co-ordinate and offer science-based information, weather forecasts, climate predictions, and climate projections that could empower decision makers to manage the risks and opportunities of climate variability and change.

The department, in collaboration with the provinces, had just concluded the risk and vulnerability assessment to climate change in the nine provinces and associated response plans. Implementation of response plans was under way across the provinces.

Long-term adaptation scenarios conducted by the department showed that climate change impacts on South Africa were likely to be felt primarily through effects on water resources. Projected impacts were due to changes in rainfall and evaporation rates, but hydrological modelling approaches were essential for translating these into potential water resource impacts.
 
Future climate scenarios for southern Africa projected a higher frequency of flooding and drought extremes. The range of extremes was significantly worse under the global emissions scenario that showed no global greenhouse gas emission reductions. Under a wetter future climate scenario, significant increases in run-off 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 was working towards the development of a national adaptation strategy 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, the department said.
African News Agency