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For Africa, Adapting to Climate Change Must Be a Priority

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For Africa, Adapting to Climate Change Must Be a Priority

Climate change will have—and already has—significant impact on African populations. Especially those in the Sahel, the transition zone between the Sahara and the savanna that crosses from West Africa to East Africa. Benjamin Sultan, Climatologist at LOCEAN1, was at the helm of a workshop dedicated to this theme at the conference Our Common Future Under Climate Change held at UPMC and Unesco from 7 to 10 July 2015.

"Our goal was to establish an overview of the latest results published since the last IPCC2 report. Climate modeling and observation and its impacts led to new advances, and this needed to be highlighted.” Scientists have also considered the possibilities of helping local populations to adapt to climate change. "In agriculture, for example, can we select plant varieties that are more resistant to heat and drought? We also need to think about mitigating consequences of this change for the people of the Sahel." Hydrology, economics, heatwaves, food and agricultural resources: all these elements may be affected by climate change."

To address these issues, Benjamin Sultan and his colleagues proposed a panel dedicated to Sub-Saharan Africa. It brought together contributions from a hundred scientists, half, thanks to the support of IRD3, came from Africa. "It was inconceivable to conduct these discussions without them, especially since UPMC is involved in major education projects in oceanography with Senegal as well as in many jointly supervised theses in the region."The keynote speakers were selected to give an update on climate change and its various impacts."

Their presentations were followed by researchers who wanted to share their findings and have an open discussion.

"Since the 50s, global warming has been significant in the Sahel. People have never experienced such temperature differences," said Benjamin Sultan. “Moreover, the high variability in rainfall causes either droughts or floods. According to the IPCC scenarios, the phenomenon is expected to increase. More than anywhere else in the world, the impact on energy, agriculture, water and populations are heavy. "Limiting global warming to 2°C is important, but for Africa, work on the adaptability of populations is critical. With this workshop, we wanted to arm ourselves scientifically to carry the message to the COP 21".


1LOCEAN: Experiments and Numerical Approaches in Oceanography and Climate Laboratory, (UPMC / CNRS / IRD / MNHN / IPSL))

2Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

3Research Institute for Development

For more information

El Niño Seen Through the Eye of a UPMC Climatologist

Climate: Decisive Feedback on Our Future

Helping Decision-Makers to Choose Wisely

The conference site Our Common Future Under Climate ChangeNouvelle fenêtre



Photo credit: Géraldine Bachmann - Communications Department UPMC