Rising Temperature: Unbearable Heat Breaks into Gambia’s Winter Season
Anyone who’s currently living in The Gambia is experiencing an unusual winter weather that to a greater extent, has not been friendly due to intensifying temperatures, with today’s forecast to 34 degrees Celsius.
Pedestrians, including workers and students are normally seen taking cover in the shades, especially between 1 pm and 4 pm, when the heat waves would be pouring on the surface of the earth. The amount of sunshine and heat cause dizziness for some.
Typically, Gambia’s weather pattern during the months of December, January and February are known to be consistently cold. But with global warming taking toll on the earth, people have become the recipients of the climate change impact.
“I would always be asking myself this question. Why is this year’s weather showing this? This is unusual. When I was young, the cold season used to start since October, almost just after the rainy season, and I used to like it so much. But this has changed,” Sainabou Secka, a student at The Gambia College tells The Chronicle.
As a student, Sainabou was taught about the effects of global warming and she believes that is exactly the cause of the change of weather in recent times. “I am so worried this year because even January was partially hot, totally different from before.”
A young woman, Mariam Keita is also bothered by the heat wave. “It affects me because whenever I’m working in the sun, I feel like there is something itching my skin. It also gives me a headache and I would start feeling dizzy.”
Both Sainabou and Mariam admitted to taking cover in the shade due to the scorching sunlight that also transmits unbearable heat.
Modou Lamin Colley prefers cold season to the hot season because of his body condition. “I’m someone who has built up weight so even to do certain work is a problem when the sun is too hot. I always do my work in the morning before the sun becomes hot. When the sun comes out, the moment I start work I become tired easily,” he tells The Chronicle.
“It was quite different in those days when January used to be very cold, but now due to climate change, January is becoming hotter,” said Colley.
According to weather information obtained from the timeanddate.com, today’s forecast is 34 degrees Celsius in the afternoon while Tuesday is expected to be 33 degrees Celsius.
A lecturer and coordinator of the Environmental Science Program at the University of the Gambia, Omar Malmo Sambou said there’s a total shift in weather pattern. He pointed to the fact that the country is also experiencing water shortage in terms of the amount of rainfall because there’s no longer a thick forest.
“Why this is happening is that there are higher anthropogenic activities around the world which might not be dominantly from West Africa, but it’s heavily impacting on the least developed countries like The Gambia. Such anthropogenic activities (human-induced activities) include clearing land, polluting the environment and use of cars to commute from one place to another,” Malmo, who is also the co-founder of Green-Up Gambia, tells The Chronicle.
The exhumations from the cars and big factories is a leading cause of the depletion of the ozone layer causing ultraviolet rays from the sun to directly hit earth’s surface leading to one of the many causes of global warming and rising sea level, he said.
“When this happens, you would see where it is used to be very cold now would be getting hot. In the West where it used to snow a lot now it is raining and like in The Gambia where it used to get cold, now it is getting hot and our rainfall patterns are actually closed down”.
Tijani Bojang, a meteorologist, said even though climate change as a global issue is affecting the entire world, the impacts differ from one region to another. He said in places like North America, Europe and parts of Asia and Australia, the impacts of climate change have caused an increase in the frequency and intensity in rainstorms.
According to him, the temperature is expected to rise in The Gambia in the coming years despite mitigation and adaptation measures.
“The fact remains that a lot of damage has been done already. In fact, Gambia’s contribution in terms of the emission of greenhouse gases is insignificant, is negligible. So, we have industrialized countries with big factories that cause the huge emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”
Tijani fears that if warming of the earth continues, the country would continue to receive low rainfall which will affect agricultural activities.