Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hotspots of climate change impacts in Africa: making sense of uncertainties

06.05.2014

Overlapping impacts of climate change such as drought or flooding, declining crop yields or ecosystem damages create hotspots of risk in specific parts of Africa.

These are for the first time identified in a study now published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The uncertainties in assessing the impacts do not necessarily hamper but can inform development strategies, according to the scientists. Likelihood and potential severity of impacts can be weighed to decide on suitable adaptation measures.

“We found three regions to be amongst those most at risk in a couple of decades: parts of Sudan and Ethiopia, the countries surrounding lake Victoria in central Africa, and the very southeast of the continent, including most notably parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe,” says lead-author Christoph Müller.

They are projected to see more severe dry seasons and reduced growth of plants, and near Lake Victoria floodings. These regions are the ones in sub-Saharan Africa where, by the end of the century, a combination of high likelihood and possibly severe climate change impacts hits territories with relatively high population and high poverty rates. “We tried to identify the places where climate change really hurts most,” Müller says.

***While climate change is a global issue, impacts vary widely***

“The good news is that large countries such as Nigeria and the tropical forests of the Congo region are likely to be much less affected,” Müller stresses. While climate change certainly is a global challenge, as greenhouses-gases from the use of fossil fuels disturb ecosystems worldwide, the impacts vary widely over space and time. Up to now, most studies address singular aspects of climate change impacts only, even though multiple stresses amplify the vulnerability. Hence the importance of identifying hotspots – and a composite impact measure that explicitly addresses the issue of uncertainty.

“It’s all about risks,” says Hermann Lotze-Campen, co-chair of PIK’s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerability. “We have to live with uncertainties: we don’t have perfect data about future impacts of climate change, but computer simulations can help to understand likelihoods and possible impacts. Climate change clearly threatens people’s livelihoods and thus cannot be ignored. Based on likelihoods and values at stake, we have to make decisions now – as we always do when we’re building a dike or for instance pass regulations on flight safety.”

***Managing risks for planning adaptation***

Likely impacts, such as more intensive drought periods in the Southern Sahel, clearly demand for developing coping strategies for croppers and herders, even if it remains uncertain how intense this change will be. On the contrary, there is only moderate risk of increased flooding in East Africa, but possibly with severe impacts – especially in countries like Tanzania that are subject to severe floods already today. These must be evaluated case-by-case, judging options to increase resilience and possible damages.

Adaptation measures could include improved access to international agricultural markets to for instance sell cattle before droughts, insurance systems to balance increased variability in crop yields from one year to another, or water storage systems such as underground cisterns. “This study provides the people on the ground with information they can hopefully use to then decide what to do,” says Lotze-Campen. “A continental scenario analysis like this one can never be a blueprint for adaptation, as it of course lacks the local expertise. Yet it can help to decide where to best put the limited resources in the countries most affected by climate change.”

Article: Müller, C., Waha, K., Bondeau, A., Heinke, J. (2014): Hotspots of climate change impacts in sub-Saharan Africa and implications for adaptation and development. Global Change Biology (online) [DOI:10.1111/gcb.12586]

Weblink to the article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12586/abstract

Related article: Piontek, F., Müller, C., Pugh, T.A.M, et al. (2013): Multisectoral climate impacts in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (early online edition) [DOI:10.1073/pnas.1222471110]

Weblink to the related article: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1222471110

For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-Mail: press@pik-potsdam.de
Twitter: @PIK_Climate

Jonas Viering | PIK Potsdam
Further information:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de

Further reports about: Africa Klimafolgenforschung Potsdam-Institut forests tropical forests

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht New approach for environmental test on livestock drugs
27.07.2016 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Managing an endangered river across the US-Mexico border
18.07.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-assembling nano inks form conductive and transparent grids during imprint

Transparent electronics devices are present in today’s thin film displays, solar cells, and touchscreens. The future will bring flexible versions of such devices. Their production requires printable materials that are transparent and remain highly conductive even when deformed. Researchers at INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials have combined a new self-assembling nano ink with an imprint process to create flexible conductive grids with a resolution below one micrometer.

To print the grids, an ink of gold nanowires is applied to a substrate. A structured stamp is pressed on the substrate and forces the ink into a pattern. “The...

Im Focus: The Glowing Brain

A new Fraunhofer MEVIS method conveys medical interrelationships quickly and intuitively with innovative visualization technology

On the monitor, a brain spins slowly and can be examined from every angle. Suddenly, some sections start glowing, first on the side and then the entire back of...

Im Focus: Newly discovered material property may lead to high temp superconductivity

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.

While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.

Im Focus: Mapping electromagnetic waveforms

Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.

Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...

Im Focus: Continental tug-of-war - until the rope snaps

Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases

Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

GROWING IN CITIES - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Gardening

15.07.2016 | Event News

SIGGRAPH2016 Computer Graphics Interactive Techniques, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California

15.07.2016 | Event News

Partner countries of FAIR accelerator meet in Darmstadt and approve developments

11.07.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New material could advance superconductivity

28.07.2016 | Materials Sciences

CO2 can be stored underground for 10 times the length needed to avoid climatic impact

28.07.2016 | Earth Sciences

The intravenous swim team

28.07.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>