Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Africa to take a "quantum leap" in forecasting

IRIN: Africa has struggled to make accurate and detailed predictions of the impact of climate change on its countries, but the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) which began earlier in 2010, will see the continent take a "quantum leap" in climate change projection, says Bruce Hewitson, the project’s Africa coordinator.

CORDEX, an initiative by the World Climate Research Programme, will help downscale the global climate model climate change projections being prepared for the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) so as to predict, for instance, what impact higher global temperatures might have on Lagos, Nigeria, until the end of this century.

This detailed information will feed into the IPCC's fifth assessment report, expected to be published in 2013 or 2014. "The priority area for CORDEX is Africa, as it is historically under-researched," said Hewitson, who is also the co-lead author of the chapter on regional contexts in the report by IPCC Working Group II, which will look at impact, adaptation and vulnerability.

Projecting the impact of climate change requires studying changes in the long-term averages of daily weather patterns and many other factors, and can be a tricky business. To make forecasting the possible effects of climate change as comprehensive as possible, and also make the connection between current events and future consequences clearer, scientists and academics have been expanding the list of variables to include sea level rise and even food price increases and malnutrition statistics.

…Fourteen climate modelling groups have already begun work, taking into account climate data from as far back as 1950 and looking beyond into 2100. Because of a lack of capacity in Africa, only two groups - one at UCT, led by Hewitson, and the other being the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa - are based on the continent….

A 1689 map of Africa

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