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CORDEX-Africa: Enhancing climate change knowledge in Africa


Project Reference: PNAF-0001

African countries face serious impacts from climate change in this century and beyond. Global climate models help to paint a picture of future climate change and give information on the likelihood of more drought and sea level rise, uncertain rainfall patterns, and other changes.

The technology and methodology behind regional climate models, downscaled from global climate models, are improving to provide information about future climate change and its impact in finer detail. That’s exactly what the World Climate Research Program (WRCP) is promoting through CORDEX, the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment.

The CORDEX Africa Programme represents a significant step in advancing African research and policy on climate change. With more detailed information about how climate change will affect the continent, African countries can plan more effectively. Key to the project’s success is ensuring the data is relevant to Africa’s knowledge needs.

African expertise is being developed to analyse and interpret CORDEX data, and CDKN is supporting efforts to link these researchers with policy-makers to determine appropriate ways to apply the CORDEX results to decision-making.

CDKN has partnered with leading research centres to deliver the programme: WRCP, the University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analysis Group, START, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, and the Swedish Meteorological-Hydrological Institute.

Through the programme, CDKN is fostering more communication between African scientists and research institutions, northern-based scientists and research institutions, think tanks, and development practitioners. Workshops and dialogues with African policy-makers are being run to inform the policy community and decision-making.

The first training workshop for African users of CORDEX data took place at the end of March at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. Participants from four distinct geographical regions – the Sahel, Southern West Africa, South East Africa and Southern Africa – focused on accessing model data, interpreting uncertainties, and used the information in initial analysis of future projections of regional climate.

In July, several of them received hands-on training in data analysis and presentation at the University of Cape Town. Working with cutting-edge software, they learned how to understand and manipulate raw data. “In terms of capacity building for the African climate community, I believe there has been significant progress,” said South African Weather Service participant, Mxolisi Shongwe. “After the training workshop in March, several of our colleagues improved their data handling skills and can now write code and get useful information out of the CORDEX data.”

The full group met again in November, just before CoP17 in Durban, South Africa, to focus on more detailed analysis of the data, before participating in a CoP-17 side event with the UNDP and other partners.

A final CORDEX-Africa workshop will take place in early 2012 to produce peer reviewed contributions to the Africa chapter of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and policy briefs.

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