Investigating climate trends and impacts in semi-arid regions of East Africa

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Zaroug, Modathir
New, Mark
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University of Khartuom
Semi-arid regions, such as the African Sahel, are typically located in the boundary between extremely dry and much wetter climate zones. The semi-arid regions of East Africa are subject to high year-to-year rainfall variability and people living in these regions are particularly exposed to the impacts of climate variability and climate change; the success of the seasonal rains can be critical to people’s survival and their livelihoods. As the Earth warms, trends towards harsher or more productive climatic conditions will therefore have significant consequences for how people in semi-arid regions live with the environment and sustain their livelihoods. The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project is one of four projects being funded through the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA). The latest evidence and understanding will be presented of climate-related variability and trends, in the semi-arid regions of East Africa. In general, the weight of evidence suggests that climate change is having largely adverse effects on natural systems supporting people’s livelihoods in semi-arid regions of Africa. Temperatures in these regions are rising at above global average rates and in some locations this is leading to measurable impacts on human and natural systems. However, significant year-to-year and longer-term variability in rainfall patterns means that any attribution of rainfall trends to global climate change is complicated. Also, future projections show large disagreements in the direction of rainfall changes and climate models are subject to large uncertainties that complicate any interpretation of climate messages.
Semi arid, historical trend, future projection