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CR 17:145-168 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/cr017145

African climate change: 1900-2100

Mike Hulme1,*, Ruth Doherty3, Todd Ngara4, Mark New5, David Lister2

1Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and
2Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
3Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado 80307, USA
4Climate Change Office, Ministry of Mines, Environment and Tourism, Postal Bag 7753 Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
5School of Geography, Mansfield Road, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3TB, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: 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 Change¹s 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.

KEY WORDS: African climate · Climate scenarios · Rainfall variability · Climate modelling · Seasonal forecasting · Land cover changes

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