Climate impact atlas for climate change in Africa to be realized

Researchers are now starting to create a climate impact atlas for Africa. This will show some effects of a changed climate. The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) will be providing expert support as the climate impact atlas is developed by researchers in Africa.

The atlas will show local effects that arise when the climate changes and the global average temperature increases by 1.5°, 2° or 4°C. It is based on analyses of climate indicators that are important for e.g. agriculture, health, water, energy and natural disasters. The indicators present information from global and regional climate models regarding the anticipated future climate.

“The initial area of focus that we will be working on during 2017 is agriculture. We anticipate that the entire climate impact atlas will take four years to complete,” says Grigory Nikulin, researcher at SMHI.

Heavy rain can lead to flash floods
A changed climate can entail more frequent instances of heavy rain, which can lead to flash flooding. Regional simulations of a changed climate present a large amount of detail, therefore providing a great opportunity to analyse local effects and to adapt society to the changed climate, alongside measures aimed at restricting emissions.

SMHI providing expert support

The analyses will be performed in Africa by local researchers. The project is being led from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“We have been working together for several years to build up local expertise in the field of climate modelling. They are now taking over the primary responsibility and we will be providing expert support. This is a major and important step in the work of distributing knowledge and expertise,” Grigory Nikulin points out. 

Clear decision support

While the climate impact atlas is an important tool for climate adaptation, it is also a clear example of how decision support can be generated based on regional climate modelling. Within the CORDEX network for regional climate modelling, the idea of creating similar climate impact atlases for other parts of the world is considered. 

The Swedish Government is contributing SEK 1.5 million to the project during 2017.

Regional climate simulations of rainfall in Africa
Regional climate simulations provide high resolution climate data that is used to analyse regional and local impacts of climate change and to adapt society to changing climate. The maps to the right show projected changes in seasonal mean rainfall for the period July-September in Africa by 2071-2100 under most extreme climate change scenario (RCP 8.5), compared to the reference period 1971-2000 (to the left). The bottom row shows ensemble mean of eight global climate models, and the upper row shows corresponding regional downscaling of the global models by one regional climate model at 50km resolution.