The geographical focus of AMMA-2050 is West Africa.
This region stretches from the semi-arid Sahel, on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert, down to the moist tropical conditions bordering the Gulf of Guinea. The climate of the region is dominated by the West African monsoon, when winds carry moist air from the Atlantic Ocean towards the interior of the continent during the summer months. The strong decreases in annual rainfall as one travels north, produce dramatic changes in vegetation, from dense tropical forests in parts of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Ghana, through lush savannas, to barren landscapes in the far north, which come alive with vegetation when the rains arrive. The contrasting climate across the region dictates patterns of agriculture. Subsistence farming of crops such as millet and sorghum predominate in the Sahel, whilst areas with higher rainfall are increasingly being turned over to production of export crops.
Within AMMA-205 we have detailed Pilot work, focusing on:
The climate of West Africa is subject to some of the most variable rainfall patterns observed anywhere in the world. During the 1970s and 1980s, the region suffered severe droughts, whilst more recently major flood events have struck a number of the region's rapidly expanding cities. The consequences of these climatic extremes for the population have been particularly pronounced due to widespread and severe poverty. Global climate change, coming on top of such a variable and unpredictable regional climate, poses a major threat to the populations and economies of West Africa. Although the pathway from climate change to human suffering in West Africa is very short, there are some key bottlenecks to using climate projections to mitigate against risks to the population. Critical gaps exist in knowledge of how West African climate will change over the course of the 21st century, and the uncertainties make it almost impossible for agencies to deliver well-informed plans for the coming decades in critical areas such as food security, urban development and water. Even with the best climate information, it remains a significant challenge to integrate the scientific knowledge into planning and management structures. Getting past these bottlenecks, both gaps in climate knowledge and methods to incorporate inherent uncertainty in planning, is the aim of the AMMA-2050 project.