African cities and villages will soon have access to detailed data on how climate change may affect them until the next century.
The Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX), an initiative of the World Meteorological Organization and the World Climate Research Programme, aims to provide localised projections about impacts of climate change. It will feed into the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due to be released in 2014.
The information is expected to help countries and local communities in their efforts to adapt to changing weather patterns, and to tailor their disaster risk reduction plans.
CORDEX aims to downscale the data for all regions of the world, but Africa — which has so far been under-researched and has been identified as the most vulnerable by the IPCC — is a priority for the initiative.
The CORDEX Africa campaign will also allow African climatologists to meet other African scientists who study vulnerability, adaptation and the impact of climate change on people, to translate the model numbers into meaningful, usable information. Experts from countries that include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe will analyse the data.
"These scientists [who study the humanitarian impact of climate change] know, for example, what thresholds, if crossed more frequently, would impact detrimentally on communities, so whether the people in a certain area are more vulnerable to five days or eight days of continuous rainfall," says Chris Lennard, a scientist at the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His group is working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria.
"We are coming together so that the impacts scientists can ask climatologists their questions, who will then analyse the model output with these questions in mind and provide them with information they can use," he told IRIN News.
Lennard said that they expect to have the first downscaled model data this month.