Dr Ellen Dyer, Dr Callum Munday, Dr Rachel James, Dr Richard Jones, Dr Katrina Charles and Professor Richard Washington, all from the School of Geography and the Environment (SoGE), presented results from five large NERC and DFID funded current research projects (REACH, UMFULA, IMPALA, FRACTAL and LaunchPad) in 20 papers at the first African Climate Risks Conference in early October.
The three day conference, organised by the Future Climate for Africa programme, of which UMFULA, IMPALA and FRACTAL are a part, was held at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. Although not present, the work of Dr Neil Hart and Emma Howard was also presented by those able to attend, as well as research led by Dr Friederike Otto on the influence of human-induced climate change on droughts, floods and associated damages. In addition to the research papers, Dr Ellen Dyer convened a panel discussion on Climate Adaptation and Water, bringing together Ethiopian stakeholders from the National Meteorological Agency with water managers from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and the Basin Development Office for the Awash River to discuss challenges and opportunities for integrating climate data in water management. An overview of the climate science from the UMFULA, IMPALA and FRACTAL projects was a feature of the first plenary sessions. These projects have enabled an unprecedented focus on African climate dynamics with SoGE staff and postgraduates having made a crucial contribution over the last four years, including more than a dozen papers in top climate journals.
A common goal of all of the projects is to promote the understanding of the mechanisms of African climate change, particularly in global climate models, so as to improve confidence in climate projections to enable decision making for climate adaptation in Africa. The UMFULA project has pioneered the role of specific features of the climate system such as tropical lows, heat lows, tropical-temperate troughs and the Congo Air Boundary, in climate change. Part of that process entails understanding why the features form, how they are represented in the models we rely on for climate projections and how those features respond in simulations of the future. A feature of the IMPALA project is a pan-African convective permitting climate model which has been studied by Oxford researchers. The model is able to replicate the climate system with greater fidelity than the previous generation of models and represents a step-change in our capabilities.
Case studies on building resilience or adapting to climate change in a range of contexts from hydropower to informal settlements was reported by FRACTAL researchers who demonstrated new approaches to integrating climate and socio-economic information to develop solutions for their case study cities.