A new study has highlighted a disaster that is brewing for countries in Africa due to the issue of global warming: the study’s climate models show that extreme heat waves may become an annual occurrence detrimentally impacting both life expectancy, and crop production in as little as two decades. With much of the continent lying within tropical latitudes, the heat experienced by Africa is infamous; with heat-caused drought, and famine already being an all-too common occurrence.

"Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, and even a modest rise in average global temperature could have severe consequences for the people living there," explains Jana Sillmann of Norway’s Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO). "We need to put considerable effort into climate change adaptation to reduce the risk of extreme events such as heat waves, which are likely to occur much more frequently in the future."

While Africa’s predisposition for high temperatures makes it vulnerable to increased heat waves, the real problem is that much of the continent’s population doesn’t have access to the resources needed to face the problems that a dramatic shift in climate can bring. "The severity of the impact on human mortality, and crop production depends on the vulnerability of the communities affected, and the environmental systems," says Sillmann.