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Examining Potential Changes in African Moisture Transports and Precipitation

PI: Chris Funk
Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Abstract:
I am a geographer/climatologist within the Climate Hazard Group (CHG) at UC Santa Barbara. The CHG provides climate and agro-meteorological analyses to support USAID food security applications, primarily in Africa. As geographer/climatologists we specialize in the interpretation of climate information in socio-agronomic contexts. Salient examples of this work involve analysis of the recent drought in Eastern Africa, and mid-season prognoses of the 2002/03 and 2003/04 growing seasons in Southern Africa. We are presently working with partners within the Famine Early Warning System Network to develop analytic frameworks for evaluating the potential food security impacts of multi-year droughts.

We have three specific questions: i) what are the potential changes in on-shore moisture transports into Africa, ii) what are the potential changes in upper atmospheric circulation patterns, and iii) what might these changes imply for African rainfall, especially during the heart of the growing season in the most vulnerable sub-Saharan countries. We are concerned that warming in the tropical Indian and Atlantic oceans may tend to reduce or redirect moisture transports, while weakening the upper level easterlies typically associated with strong convection. Access to the IPCC simulations will allow us to examine these hypotheses and link these circulation changes to potential variations in precipitation. These results could have dramatic implications for Africa, and directly address the "sustainable development" theme of the IPCC.
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