Session: Climate Intervention: Risks, Effects and Predicted Impacts for Biodiversity and Ecological Systems
SRM research in Africa: Past, present, and future
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Romaric C. Odoulami and Mark New, African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, Izidine Pinto and Christopher Lennard, Climate System Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Romaric C. Odoulami
African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa
Background/Question/Methods Africa’s engagement in solar radiation management (SRM) research is recent and promising. While previous SRM works that include Africa were led by researchers from other parts of the world, the last two years have seen the first African SRM research work exploring various ways in which SRM deployment could influence the continent’s climate. This engagement was possible only with the Developing Country Impacts Modelling Analysis for SRM or DECIMALS Fund, which offered developing countries the opportunity to research and raise awareness on the potential impacts of SRM in their regions. We report here how research progress across the continent in terms of main findings and perspectives regarding SRM research in Africa for the future. Results/Conclusions Through the DECIMALS Fund, Africa has now produced significant, high-impact research on the impact SRM deployment through stratospheric aerosol injection may have on Africa’s climate. The main findings suggest that for Africa, SRM might significantly decrease mean surface temperature and frequency of temperature extremes to levels compared to pre-industrial periods, however, the impact on precipitation is regionally heterogeneous and less certain. Over West Africa, the summer monsoon precipitation remains unchanged over most parts of the Sahel in the future under SRM, except over the Guinean Coast where significant decreases in the monsoon precipitation is simulated. We find SRM induced changes in precipitation over West Africa are mostly due to changes in the dynamic processes known to drive the West African monsoon circulation. At a more regional level, results suggest that deploying SRM could reduce the risk of droughts as severe as the Cape Town “Day Zero” event - the drought that nearly caused the city of Cape Town in South Africa to run out of water in 2017-2018 - by up to 90% in the future compare to a future without SRM. These findings give an insight into the ongoing African research into the impact of SRM over the continent. Further research is envisaged to explore the impact of SRM on the ocean-atmosphere system as well as other natural systems such as ecological, hydrological, and agricultural systems.