A CORDEX-Africa proposal
Update – September 2017
A prototype Impacts is under development thanks to funding from the Swedish Government. Please see here for details.
Thresholds exist in most biophysical and socioeconomic systems, which if crossed, impact the functioning of the system negatively and many of these thresholds include sensitivity to the climate. For example, crops have temperature-sensitive thresholds which if exceeded for a specific number of days means the crop fails; crossing heat stress thresholds in animals and humans lead to ill health or mortality; crossing an energy demand threshold may lead to rolling blackouts in a country. Furthermore, these complex systems operate at the regional and local scale (e.g. ecological, hydrological, agricultural, infrastructural, social). Therefore information about change at relevant time and space scales for each system is critically important to assess the impacts of anthropogenic warming on these systems into the future.
Worryingly, several studies have demonstrated that most regions in Africa are likely to experience much higher rates of regional warming in space and time than the global average. This poses a notable threat to sustainable development on the continent where there is a high-risk exposure to climate stressors as these changes may exceed the coping capacities (thresholds) of particularly vulnerable sectors/communities.
Regional scale climate information and spatially detailed climate change assessments are crucial to inform adaptation and mitigation strategies in the context of increasing greenhouse gasses. Currently, many policy decisions are made using global average information without an indication of the timing of change. This information does not reflect the regional perspective nor speak to climate sensitive sectors and systems. There is therefore an urgent need to provide regional scale climate information that includes an indication of the timing and magnitude of change to inform policy around climate change adaptation and mitigation activities.
We will assess the timing of climate-sensitive threshold exceedences for range of sectors under global temperature targets of 1.5, 2 and 4 degrees above the pre-industrial levels in an African context. We will investigate the impact of regional climate change on reaching these global averages in key sectors identified by the Global Framework for Climate Service, namely health, disaster risk reduction, water, agriculture and energy across the African continent.
Through a co-explorative investigation with sector-specific experts, complex indices will be derived using climate and sector-specific information. Combining this information with the timing of reaching 1.5, 2 and 4 degrees of global warming an assessment will be made of when critical thresholds within these regional systems might be crossed that would have deleterious impacts on the system.
The timing, magnitude and robustness of projected regional change will be presented as indices in an Atlas of regional change for use by the scientific, impacts and policy-making communities. A quantification of the timing of threshold exceedences in affected systems will also facilitate and assessment of the cost delayed mitigation could have in regional socio-economic systems.
Three main activities are proposed.
1. The development of a proof of concept atlas based on climate and agricultural indices/metrics and including experiences made in similar activities for other parts of the globe (e.g. IMPACT2C; CLIP-C; CIP). The atlas would provide information useful to the climate, agriculture and policy development communities. This would take one year to develop and serve as a launching platform for a more extensive atlas.
2. The development of a more extensive atlas with information pertaining to other GFCS sectors (e.g. health, energy, water). This atlas would include a co-exploratory approach to co-develop (complex) indices using data from climate, impacts and other application models (e.g. hydrology, agriculture, energy, economic etc.). Furthermore, the atlas will include tools for downloadable data, fact sheets on regional change and examples of best practice in using information. The timeline for completion of the work and delivery of this enhanced atlas is four years.
3. Ongoing CORDEX-Africa research activities to understand the physical climate reason for what we see in the atlas.
All of these activities would take place in the context of developing human capacity in cross- and trans-disciplinary networks to co-explore and co-develop solutions in the face of a warming climate. The product, an impacts atlas, would attract large interest from the impact modelling and policy making community. We therefore believe that this project is of great strategic importance in both a national and Pan-African framework, contributing relevant change information that has been co-produced by a multi- and trans-disciplinary community through an inclusive co-exploratory process.
The word “KINGA” is the combination of Swahili words:
“KI” represents “Kiwango Stahiki” – “Threshold”
“NGA” represents “Majanga” – “Disaster/dangerous change”
I addition, there is also a stand-alone Swahili word “Kinga” that means “Prevent” or “Protect”. The project name thus encapsulates the goal of the project to identify when sector-specific dangerous change may occur in regions across Africa as a result of global warming.
Please direct any questions to:
Chris Lennard firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilfran Moufouma-Okia email@example.com
Grigory Nikulin firstname.lastname@example.org
Andreas Haensler email@example.com