Where is Harmattan?



The harmattan season is being anticipated. The harmattan – a dry, dusty north easterly wind occurring
from end of November to February blows from the Sahara Desert to the Gulf of Guinea over the West African continent. In Nigeria, the heavy dust can severely limit visibility and the dry wind can increase the risk of fire as well as cause crop damage. Harmattan is characterised with a drop in humidity to as low as 15%.
We are past mid-December and are yet to feel the harmattan breeze. This may not be unrelated to the change in climate. Climatic change is a change in the usual weather of a place or a change in the earth’s temperature due to the activities of human. These activities result in a rise in the average surface temperature on earth. These human activities include cooking, burning, driving etcetera. The energy used for these activities are gotten from the combustion of fossil fuels which releases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases into the air.
The earth has a natural way of recycling all of its resources including temperature. The heat absorbed from the sun increases the temperature of the earth which in turn, reflects the heat back into space thereby, cooling the earth. When greenhouse gases are increased in the atmosphere, they absorb the heat energy that is released to space. This slows or prevents the loss of heat to space thus, acting like a blanket.
Some climatic changes may be due to natural causes such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar energy but human activities have been found to be the dominant cause of this current climatic change. Scientists say that the levels of carbon dioxide have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times – the current CO2 level is higher than it has been in the last 800,000 years. The increasing levels of greenhouse gases cannot only increase the temperature of the earth. It can also the following:
      ·         Reduce ice and snow cover.
      ·         Raise sea levels leading to flooding, erosion, contamination of soils etcetera.
      ·         Increase in the acidity of the oceans.
      ·         Increased threat to health.
      ·         Shift in the ecosystem.
We all have a role to play in safeguarding our climate. We can help to reduce this impact on our climate.
    Ø  Turn off electrical gadgets and light not in use.
    Ø  Don’t waste water.
    Ø  Plant a tree.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi
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