MARKtoe! September 2014 Uitgawe 9 - Page 33

LANDBOU temperatures have major impacts, not only on the oceans, but also on global weather and climate. Studies of the ENSO are extensive and, as scientists point out, extremely complex. Strong El Niño episodes have been associated with “below rainfall years”, and according to climatologists, we are heading towards an El Niño phase right now. So what does all this mean for the coming 2014/2015 fire season? Scientists tell us that it is difficult to forecast climate during the transition periods between El Niño and El Niña phases. Indeed, some have even claimed that this very transition has accounted for last summer’s extreme rainfall. A quick look at the SAWS rainfall figures indicates that the rainfall measured in the Western Cape this winter is still above the norm, albeit not as significantly as it was in summer. What has become apparent to climate watchers throughout the world is that we are experiencing more extreme weather events. That is, winds and rainfall and temperatures that are all well above, or below the norm. This ties in well with the predictions made by scientists about climate change. The message thus is simple – expect more “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.“ of the same. The El Niño phase is associated with higher than average temperatures, and drought conditions are expected to prevail over much of the continent. Preparing for the coming fire season By all accounts, the coming fire season will be back to business as usual, and landowners will do well to follow the fine example set by institutions such as the FynbosFire Project and various nature conservancies, and to prepare for the fire season in advance. You are advised to join up with your local Fire Protection Association to ensure that you are prepared for the fire season. In the Western Cape, winter is normally the time to start planning for the fire season. This is when managers and staff undergo training and conduct audits on their equipment to ensure that they are prepared for the inevitable. The fact is, there is nothing we can do to change the weather this coming fire season. What we can do however, is prepare for the things that are associated with the Cape summer. As Mark Twain is said to have remarked, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” MARKtoe! Augustus 2014 33