Dying of The Smoke That Thunders…
About 1100m wide and 100m high at its peak this waterfalls churns out a thunderous volume of water resulting in a spray of mist which earned it its local name Mosi oa Tunya meaning The Smoke Thunders.
Water from the Zambezi river plunges into this fault-line that separates Zimbabwe and Zambia leaving an age old debate as to which country between the two has the best view and which country are the falls even in….
Named after Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria by David Livingstone when he “discovered” the majestic falls, in 1855. Lets try not get distracted over how one can discover something, whilst the already are local people there, anyhoo the amended version of history is that he was the first European to see the falls.
A few years ago a story begun circulating on the internet that the Victoria Falls had run dry…..
Some said the Zambezi River Spirit,the Nyami Nyami had finally carried out vengeance for the building the Kariba dam just down stream of the river and dried up the region, stopped the rain from falling, the trees from bearing fruit and the soil from growing plants….
I wondered if the circulating image was a photoshopped internet hoax and so I researched a little about the falls and the hydrology of the Zambezi River.
The Falls are somewhat seasonal following the flow of the Zambezi river. During the dry season water reduces to a trickle and in some areas stops completely exposing the rocky surface particularly from the Zambian side which is on a slightly higher level than the Zimbabwean side.
Traditionally the falls are at their driest just before the onset of the rain season (around October) which is when the hydrological year begins and then Zambezi river water levels starts rising with a peak flow in May.
This year due to an exceptionally low rainfall in the 2018 rain season, the Zambezi river water has been at its lowest since 1996 with a flow that’s almost half its normal volume that the Zambezi River Authority had to start rationing water available for the Kariba Hyrodroelectric Power plant resulting in massive electricity shortages in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe relies on hydroelectric power for 60% of its power generation.
BBC’s Stephen Sackur was in Zimbabwe for an episode of Hardtalk on the Road in Zimbabwe
Stephen talked to Elisha Moyo a local climate change expert; Moyo said “there’s no water at places that should already be covered.” Water flow that should be around 300m³ is at about 87m³
Could the Victoria Falls dry up?
“Who knows maybe one year there will be no falls completely, no water.”
Research by other climate change experts collating data from 40 years of meteorological and hydrologival data for the region shows climate change and variability with a statistical increase in average temperatures and increased instance of droughts and extreme weather conditions.
Climate Change refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer) Climate change is mostly attributable to human activity; may be due to natural internal processes or external factors such as persistent changes to the atmosphere or changes in land use. Global Warming
Climate Variability refers to deviations of climatic statistics over a given period of time (e.g. a month, season or year) when compared to long-term statistics for the same calendar period; anomalies due to natural internal processes within the climate system. Climate variability is mostly attributed to natural causes
Its normal for the Victoria falls to seem like it should be called the Rocky falls during the dry season, and its not going to dry up just yet, though without a proper environmental management plan it could definitely be a possibility….
In the mean time the water levels are already rising…….
PS a bit of poetry…..
Dying of The Smoke That Thunders..
Do not let the thundering smoke quietly dry up,
Water that falls, tumbles and rumbles
Rage against the drying of the falls