In recent decades, West Africa has experienced some of the most extreme rainfall variability anywhere in the world. This climatic variability is directly affecting the livelihoods of its growing population. In this region rainfall is notoriously variable and contributed to an extensive and long-lived drought triggering regional scale famine in the 1970s and 1980s. In more recent years, a partial recovery of seasonal rainfall totals in the Sahel has been accompanied by devastating flooding events. Despite a good understanding of the physical causes of historical climate variability, there is no clear agreement on how changes in greenhouse gases, land cover and aerosols will impact future rainfall. When looking at the impact on societies, there is little information on how high impact weather events may change in the future. This uncertainty, coupled with weak capability to plan investments on timescales of decades, results in the limited climate change knowledge being used as a guide to development decision-making.
This project will build on the largest multidisciplinary research effort ever undertaken in the area of African climate and environment, the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA), to address the challenges of understanding how the monsoon will change in future decades, and how this information can be most effectively used to support climate-compatible development in the region.