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New research from HyCRISTAL project explains why different climate models produce different predictions of rainfall over East Africa’s wet seasons

Monday, July 16, 2018

New research may shed new light on why various climate models produce different predictions of future rainfall over East Africa.

It has been published by the Future Climate for Africa programme under the HyCRISTAL project, which the Walker Institute is a project partner with.

Evidence suggests that rising greenhouse gas emissions and similar activity have had some impact in changes to heavy rainfall in areas of Africa. This is likely to affect vulnerable communities there, who are already dealing with the devastation caused by drought and flooding.

While climate models agree that extreme rainfall will increase, they differ in their predictions of the exact pattern of future changes in seasonal rainfall, which means anticipating where it will occur is extremely difficult. This makes it challenging to produce reliable information for people needing to make decisions resilient to climate change impacts.

Now, a new study, published in the Journal of Climate, addresses this issue by investigating why 40 different climate models produce different future seasonal amounts of rainfall over East Africa’s two wet seasons.

The study features a number of significant findings, as well as providing further evidence that global warming causes a chain of responses in the atmosphere that is often very different to the chain of responses that cause year-to-year variability in rainfall.

This is important because it indicates that it is necessary to formulate more sophisticated ways to evaluate climate models predictions. The research helps lay the groundwork to test the accuracy of the various climate models in use for a number of different tasks across the East African region.

You can read the paper in full here.  

About the HyCRISTAL project

HyCRISTAL is an interdisciplinary research partnership between institutions in the UK, USA, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It aims to improve understanding of climate change and its impacts in East Africa, and works with the region’s decision-makers to manage water for a more climate-resilient future.

HyCRISTAL is supported by the East African Community and is funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Natural Environment Research Council through the Future Climate for Africa programme.

You can find more information on the HyCRISTAL project and download a policy brief here.

For more about the HyCRISTAL project, watch Future Climate for Africa's video introduction: