African climate change: 1900-2100

Mike Hulme, Ruth M. Doherty, Todd Ngara, Mark G. New, David Lister

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This paper reviews observed (1900–2000) and possible future (2000–2100) continent-wide changes in temperature and rainfall for Africa. For the historic period we draw upon a new observed global climate data set which allows us to explore aspects of regional climate change related to diurnal temperature range and rainfall variability. The latter includes an investigation of regions where seasonal rainfall is sensitive to El Niño climate variability. This review of past climate change provides the context for our scenarios of future greenhouse gas-induced climate change in Africa. These scenarios draw upon the draft emissions scenarios prepared for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report, a suite of recent global climate model experiments, and a simple climate model to link these 2 sets of analyses. We present a range of 4 climate futures for Africa, focusing on changes in both continental and regional seasonal-mean temperature and rainfall. Estimates of associated changes in global CO2 concentration and global-mean sea-level change are also supplied. These scenarios draw upon some of the most recent climate modelling work. We also identify some fundamental limitations to knowledge with regard to future African climate. These include the often poor representation of El Niño climate variability in global climate models, and the absence in these models of any representation of regional changes in land cover and dust and biomass aerosol loadings. These omitted processes may well have important consequences for future African climates, especially at regional scales. We conclude by discussing the value of the sort of climate change scenarios presented here and how best they should be used in national and regional vulnerability and adaptation assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-168
Number of pages24
JournalClimate Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2001

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