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SA to experience more thunderstorms

25 November 2019

Professor Bob Scholes, a distinguished professor of systems ecology at the Global Change Institute, stresses that South Africa has become more prone to thunderstorms and tornadoes due to the phenomenon of global warming.

This after a third tornado, in a space of one month, swept through Utrecht, KZN on Friday. The tornado left large parts of the Waterval Correctional Services facility damaged, including 20 houses that were utilised by staff. “This is certainly consistent with all our model predictions and it seems to be consistent with the number of reported cases which we’ve seen increasing over the last decade. As you warm the earth, the ability of the atmosphere to hold water increases. So more water evaporates into it and that leads to atmospheric instability,” says the expert.

He explains the causes of thunderstorms and how global warming contributes to the rapid evaporation of water. “The occurrence of thunderstorms happens when a parcel of air which contains moisture starts to rise in the atmosphere, it causes it to become progressively more buoyant and it rises faster and faster – which causes thunderstorms.”

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