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CSRP research aims to improve understanding and prediction of climate towards supporting sustainable poverty alleviation
CSRP research aims to improve understanding and prediction of climate towards supporting sustainable poverty alleviation
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Overview

The CSRP has a strong strategy for developing science to support sustainable poverty reduction

Introduction

The Climate Science Research Partnership (CSRP) with the  Met Office Hadley Centre  aimed to increase the resilience of African societies through delivering improved climate modelling and prediction for Africa and through developing the capacity of African scientists and meteorological organisations. There are major gaps in current understanding of climate over Africa and this inhibits the capacity to implement reliable warning systems and to provide robust predictions of future climate change.

The programme focussed in four main areas (with emphasis on the first two):

- Improving the underpinning understanding of African climate and its drivers

- Improving numerical climate models for Africa

- Delivering more robust climate information products to African users

- Strengthening capacity and the use of climate information products across Africa.

The programme has run in two phases: CSRP-1, a 3-year phase focusing on improved African climate modelling and prediction on monthly-to-decadal timescales; and CSRP-2, a 15-month phase focussing on the 10-50 year prediction timescale.

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

Background

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

The challenges ahead

With climate change, referring to historical data is becoming a less reliable way of estimating the risk of climate extremes. Seasonal forecasts now provide the best basis to predict climate risk out to six months ahead and they can take into account both climate variability and change. Seasonal forecasting systems can also form the basis for early warning systems to enable better planning of relief activities. Improvements to the understanding and modelling of climate over Africa can be incorporated into seasonal forecasting systems and improve the usefulness of these forecasts for Africa. CSRP has developed new trial seasonal forecast products addressing user needs in Africa.

On longer, decadal time scales, climate change and variability signals are typically of the same magnitude. A starting point in adaptation planning is to build resilience to current climate variability, while recognising that current climate conditions will substantially change in future. Decadal prediction systems enable both current variability and future climate change to be systematically accounted for. CSRP has developed a new decadal prediction system and developed trial multi-annual forecasts for Africa.

Key decisions on infrastructure planning (e.g.reservoir/dam construction, urban development) need climate change information for an even longer time horizon - out to say 50 years ahead. For many parts of Africa there is a large spread in the predicted changes from the climate models used in the IPCCs fifth assessment report, this uncertainty in projected changes hinders use of the predictions for adaptation decisions. To help reduce prediction uncertainty CSRP research has improved the physical basis of the Met Office's Hadley Centre Global Environment Model version 3 (HadGEM3) in representing African climate - and research is continuing to guide future model improvements.

There is a growing tendency to attribute all climate related local and regional changes to man made increases in greenhouse gases, whereas other reasons such as natural climate variability and land use changes, for example deforestation, can be of more importance. CSRP has developed a near real-time system that can attribute the causes of observed changes - adding insights that can help to avoid incorrect and expensive adaptation measures.

Information about the future climate is needed on a scale that can be used directly by in-country stakeholders. This requires downscaling of global climate information to the local level. The products currently available, such as seasonal forecasting products, are of limited use because they do not address key stakeholder requirements. CSRP has developed regional versions of HadGEM3, optimised them for downscaling over Africa and worked with African climate scientists to further their implementation.

To strengthen capabilities for African climate scientists to support planners and decision-makers CSRP activities have included enhancing the professional development of African scientists. Key activities in capacity development included a fellowship scheme for 11 African climate scientists and practitioners, three climate science workshops, capacity development activities at African Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and knowledge sharing.

More information on the CSRP approach is summarised in the CSRP brochure, which is available for download below

Climate Science Research Partnership brochure Climate Science Research Partnership (CSRP) brochure (PDF, 1 MB)

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Last Updated: 1 December 2014