Climate Science Research Partnership

Climate Science Research Partnership

13 November 2012

The Climate Science Research Partnership (CSRP) is working with various African organisations to improve understanding and practical prediction of African climate to help alleviate poverty.

Climate variability and change have huge impacts on food security, water availability, human health and social and economic infrastructures. This is especially evident in Africa where people are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and climate change.

Through improved predictions of climate variability and change it's possible to manage these impacts and sustainably reduce poverty in Africa. The partnership between the Department for International Development (DFID) and Met Office Hadley Centre is working, in consultation with African stakeholders, to advance understanding of current and future African climate, and bring new science into use.

Consultation

Climate Science Research Partnership - African village

The CSRP objectives were refined in consultation with partners in Africa. The aim was to help identify research directions that would best contribute towards enhancing the range and quality of climate information available to users in Africa.

Interviews were held with regional climate organisations, national meteorological and hydrological services, universities, non-governmental organisations, government ministries and organisations acting on climate information to aid vulnerable communities. Consultations focused on requirements for monthly to decadal predictions - timescales of most practical use in developing resilience to climate variability and change.

The CSRP is enhancing the professional development of African scientists by running training workshops to help develop and disseminate new products based on CSRP research. In addition, eleven African scientists have been awarded study fellowships to research African climate issues. This has helped to advance the CSRP's objectives and to strengthen the climate science base in Africa.

Predictions for vulnerable regions

A key focus of CSRP is advancing understanding of African climate processes to improve their representation in the Met Office Hadley Centre's HadGEM3 climate model - leading to better predictions of climate for vulnerable regions of Africa. Key results include improved modelling of rainfall in all the important sub-Saharan rainy seasons, enhanced understanding of the drivers of interannual variability in the West African Monsoon and a comprehensive assessment of the ability of present-day climate models to represent the important influences of the global oceans on African rainfall.

Early warning systems and adaptation planning are already being helped by the CSRP. For example, the timing of the onset of Africa's rainy seasons is crucial to agriculture; if crops are planted too early ahead of the rains, seeds rot in the ground; if too late, the early growing season is missed. Experimental forecasts of onset timing have been developed using the Met Office's seasonal forecast system and are being trialled by climate centres in East, West and southern Africa. These forecasts are the first of their kind and can help African regional centres and weather services improve predictions of rainy seasons, leading to increased agricultural output and food security.

A new monthly-decadal system has been developed and shows improved capability to predict rainfall and temperature averages over Africa out to five years ahead. This has enhanced potential to provide early warnings, for example, of drought or successive drought, and adaptation advice.

Information on how man-made climate change drives extreme weather in Africa is essential to inform adaptation strategies, and can help avoid inappropriate and potentially expensive adaptation. First results have focussed on the recent severe drought in the Greater Horn of Africa and indicate that man-made climate change has had little impact on rainfall in the short-rains season in this region (October to November), but may have increased the risk of drier-than-average conditions in the long-rains season (March to May).

A key objective of the CSRP was to bring research into practical use in Africa. This is now being achieved through ongoing climate science workshops held in collaboration with African centres, as well as active participation in Africa's Regional Climate Outlook Forums and policy forums for climate and development.

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