Unit Affiliation: Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)
The project will 1) evaluate the sensitivity of agricultural impact models to refined climate projections and to their uncertainty, and 2) identify how the knowledge produced by climate and climate-impact models can inform negotiations for international adaptation funds.
This project will advance understanding of how sub-seasonal variability in rainfall and temperature can affect agricultural production in the African Sahel in the current climate and under global warming conditions. The project also will identify best practice for how to convey such advanced knowledge to policy makers. The first task requires (i) building the relevant datasets (for example, onset dates, frequency of dry spells, high rainfall events, and heat waves) for the Sahel from limited station data, satellites, reanalysis, and statistical weather generators; (ii) analyzing the variability of these climate indices at the country and regional scale in observations and in climate model simulations; and (iii) assessing their changes in 21st century projections. To identify if these climate indices have a significant effect on regional agricultural output, they will be used as input for crop models and as predictors in a regression analysis of agricultural and economic output. The second task will be accomplished by a legal analysis of successfully concluded international agreements and of on-going negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The analysis will identify the nature of the information needed for the best allocation of resources, and the form in which such information should be framed in order for it to be most comprehensible and useful to negotiators. In particular, the analysis will identify how measures of uncertainty can be brought into the negotiation process as additional, valuable information.
This project will provide a template for how climate scientists and economists can frame and promulgate their findings in a way that will have the greatest policy impact. It is built as a case study. The project first will seek to advance understanding of how extremes in rainfall and heat will change in a monsoonal and semi-arid climate under the effect of human-affected global warming. The project then will assess the influence of such changes on regional crops, depending on whether or not adaptation strategies are deployed. The investigators will disseminate an up-to-date, state-of-the-art assessment report that is framed especially as an aid to adaptation planning and to negotiations for adaptation funds. The project also will contribute to educating the next generation of interdisciplinary scholars in the fields of climate science, crop modeling, sustainable development, and the law.
OUTCOMES: Three journal publications. The three principle investigators have mostly done exploratory work within their fields.
A global view of climate change during and since the last ice age: Insights from the record of Earth
A Lagrangian Approach to Emerging Dynamics in the Marginal Ice Zone
A model-based investigation of climate variability and climate change: Focus on the West African monsoon system
A Modeling Approach in Climate Change and Natural Resource Education