Scientists zoom in impact of climate change on Mozambique Channel

A Nelson Mandela University scientist and his team deployed oceanographic instruments to conduct research on how the Indian Ocean would likely change in over 80 years due to climate change.

A fish market in Zanzibar. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Scientists are zooming in on the ocean dynamics of the Mozambique Channel.

A Nelson Mandela University scientist, Professor Mike Roberts, and his team deployed oceanographic instruments to conduct the study.

The research is part of efforts to predict how the Indian Ocean is likely to change more than 80 years from now.

Roberts is the United Kingdom-South African chair in Ocean Science and Marine Food Security at Nelson Mandela University and the University of South Hampton.

“Effectively, the ocean is warming and what this is going to do is bring devastation to the fisheries and it’s going to cause, basically, a lot of people a lot of harm in this region and the greater region of the Western Indian Ocean,” explained Roberts.

“We anticipate that some 60 million people are going to be impacted, and so what’s going to happen is you’re going to get famine moving into the coastal areas.”

Roberts said the seawater in areas north of the Mozambique Channel in the region of Kenya, Comoros, and Tanzania would become warmer to about five degrees Celsius.

“What we are trying to see is whether these big, swirling masses of water, we call them eddies in oceanography, they spin clockwise and anti-clockwise and we think they migrate.

“They sort of bounce around the northern end of Madagascar, and they come across into the channel and then they grind their way down the coast of Mozambique, and while they’re doing this, they pull up cold water and they shove it onto the coast.”

Scientists hope this cold water will cool the system down, which might mean that Mozambique would escape rising sea temperatures due to climate change.