CR 17:93-103 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/cr017093

Africa and global climate change: critical issues and suggestions for further research and integrated assessment modeling

Paul V. Desanker1,*, Christopher O. Justice2

1Global Environmental Change Program‹Africa, Department of Environmental Science, University of Virginia Clark Hall, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903, USA
2Department of Geography, University of Maryland, 2181 LeFrak Hall, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA

ABSTRACT: This special issue is dedicated to research on climate change in Africa. This research has, until recently, taken a back seat to more pressing applied research on natural resource management. As countries of the world position themselves with respect to climate change, it is important for African nations to better understand the likely impacts of climate change on their environment, peoples and economies. African researchers are now starting to address global change research issues, and this special issue provides a sample of recent research on climate change. Climate change must be an integral part of the long-term sustainable development agenda for African nations. Coping with and adapting to climate change requires a strong scientific understanding integrated with socioeconomic and policy considerations. At this time, international efforts are developing the climate change research agendas needed to develop this basic understanding and explore ways to integrate physical and social processes within a modeling framework. The immediate focus is on undertaking regional scale analyses and coupled models suited to the African physical and socioeconomic environment. This paper summarizes the rationale for this special issue, identifies the key issues addressed in the contributions and provides a concise research framework for further work on Africa. One of the primary goals of this framework is to develop regional integrated assessment models for Africa. These models are a necessary step towards strengthening the analysis of impacts and help make the necessary connection between science understanding, resource management and public policy. Integrated assessments will also help incorporate climate change analysis and prediction in sustainable development schemes.

KEY WORDS: Africa climate change research · Climate variability · Desertification · Land-use change · Regional assessment models

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