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U.N. to boost Africa climate monitoring

United Nations environmental agencies say global warming is likely to have a profound effect on Africa, which lacks the means to detect and adapt to shifting patterns of drought, floods, and disease.

The Global Climate Observing System, a partnership of U.N. agencies including the World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. Environment Program, said December 19 more funds are needed to prepare the vast continent for weather changes linked to �human-induced climate change.�

�There are big holes in climate observing networks in Africa,� William Westermeyer of the Global Climate Observing system said.

To help reverse the trend, he said U.N. agencies and regional groups such as the African Union agreed to intensify monitoring of global warming trends in Africa in a new initiative, ClimDev Africa.

The United Kingdom pledged up to US$20 million in start-up funds for the program, which will seek to improve climate observation and risk management in eight African countries and then expand to about half the continent, Westermeyer said.

The initiative, whose other partners are the International Council for Science and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, is to require about US$200 million over 10 years.

Scientists from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the University of California, Irvine, recently presented data from orbiting satellites that found sharp water decreases in parts of Africa over the past five years. (HNN 12/13/06)

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