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 Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

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: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>