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African Food Security

PI: Molly Brown
Institution: SSAI/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Abstract:
Using a newly published analysis of global climate models over West Africa, this study will analyze the impact of three potential futures described by global climate change scenarios. USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network’s livelihood baseline system provides an opportunity to determine the vulnerability of food systems in West Africa to future climate changes. Using the increased information on the food and income sources for three economic groups in Niger as a case study, the vulnerability of the food systems to potential climate changes in West Africa will be assessed. By focusing on the potential changes in the food systems in the region in the next century, we can identify actions that organizations with decision support systems with food security and food systems at their center, such as FEWS NET and AGHRYMET, can take to modify the risks to the population.

In a recent study of 18 coupled model simulations from global models included in the analysis for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, only three had a reasonable representation of the West African atmosphere and monsoon system during the past few decades(Cook & Vizy 2005). Precipitation, circulation and interannual variability were examined for all models to identify those with a reasonable ability to simulate past climate, in order to determine which may have believable simulations of possible future climate dynamics in the 21st century. 65 model integrations were examined from the 18 coupled GCM’s. Three models were selected: MIROC_MED, MRI and GFDL_0. These models had very different scenarios for the future for West Africa. The GFDL model had a very negative picture, resulting from a large off-shore winds from the Atlantic eventually the reversal of the monsoon flow, disrupting the ability of the monsoon to bring rain to the Sahel. The MIROC_MED model accentuated the moisture flow, resulting in a very positive picture for West Africa, with a large increase in moisture. The third (which Cook and Vizy consider by far the most likely of the models examined) was the MRI model produced a situation where increasing CO2 levels created increasing periods of drought and variability through the period, without any large changes in overall moisture to the region.

These scenarios will be assessed using simulated rainfall and vegetation dynamic information from matching the inter-annual dynamics seen during the past twenty-five years to the model dynamics, then extending the ‘potential’ vegetation and rainfall to 2100 using the model anomalies shown above. These will be the input to the socio-economic analysis framework described below.

Using newly available information on the ways people make a living in Africa, the study will evaluate the impact on three economic groups (poor, and better off) possible future changes in climate. Recent research has provided a way to couple local food prices and environmental variability (Brown et al. 2006), permitting a rough measure of future price variability in the underdeveloped regions of Niger to be coupled with models of environmental change. By varying the amount of food produced and food access in the markets, an index of basic food security for each economic group and livelihood zone in Niger can be obtained by year to parallel variations in rainfall from the GCM scenarios.
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    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory  |  Physical & Life Sciences Directorate