Projected climate over the Greater Horn of Africa under 1.5 C and 2 C global warming

Authors: Osima, S., Indasi, V.S., Zaroug, M., Endris, H.S., Gudoshava, M., Misiani, H.O., Nimusiima, A., Anyah, R.O., Otieno, G., Ogwang, B.A. and Jain, S.,
Date: 2018


We analyze the potential effect of global warming levels (GWLs) of 1.5 °C and 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (1861−1890) on mean temperature and precipitation as well as intra-seasonal precipitation extremes over the Greater Horn of Africa. We used a large, 25-member regional climate model ensemble from the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment and show that, compared to the control period of 1971−2000, annual mean near-surface temperature is projected to increase by more than 1 °C and 1.5 °C over most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, under GWLs of 1.5 °C and 2 °C respectively. The highest temperature increases are projected in the northern region, covering most parts of Sudan and northern parts of Ethiopia, and the lowest temperature increases are projected over the coastal belt of Tanzania. However, the projected mean surface temperature difference between 2 °C and 1. 5 °C GWLs is higher than 0.5 °C over nearly all land points, reaching 0.8 °C over Sudan and northern Ethiopia. This implies that the Greater Horn of Africa will warm faster than the global mean. While projected changes in precipitation are mostly uncertain across the Greater Horn of Africa, there is a substantial decrease over the central and northern parts of Ethiopia. Additionally, the length of dry and wet spells is projected to increase and decrease respectively. The combined effect of a reduction in rainfall and the changes in the wet and dry spells will likely impact negatively on the livelihoods of people within the coastal cities, lake regions, highlands as well as arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. The probable impacts of these changes on key sectors such as agriculture, water, energy and health sectors, will likely call for formulation of actionable policies geared towards adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming.