Working with policymakers, inter-disciplinary research (hydrology, economics, engineering, social science, ecology and decision-making) is quantifying risks and providing the necessary tools to use climate change information for decision making on a 5-40 year timescale
This is demonstrated in pilots studies, with these addressing several “areas of need” from the African Ministerial Council on Environment’s Comprehensive Framework of African Climate Change Programmes:
Beyond these specific locations and pilots, the HyCRISTAL project seeks to increase awareness and use of relevant climate information in policy across East Africa and anticipates that its research will be applicable to many other climate-sensitive decisions across a variety of sectors.
HyCRISTAL focuses on East Africa; a rapidly developing region where, close to the equator, there are two rainy seasons per year, but includes areas which have a single dominant rainy season. The socio-economic focus region is the area of the East African Community states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), but the project addresses a wider region including Somalia and Ethiopia. HyCRISTAL is supported by the East African Community and is linked to the World Meterological Office GWEX programme project HyVic.
The overarching goal of HyCRISTAL is to develop a new understanding of East African climate variability and change, their impacts, and to work with regional decision makers to support effective long-term (5 to 40 year) decision making in the face of a changing climate. In particular, it is designed to understand, quantify and reduce the uncertainty in the regional climate projections; and in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, co-develop climate-change coping options that meet the region’s societal needs in both urban and rural areas through a series of pilot demonstration projects, covering urban WASH, rural livelihoods, water management, tea production, transport and lake levels (see “Pilot Studies’). HyCRISTAL’s overarching goal will be achieved through the following specific objectives:
Climate projections show a warming trend in East Africa in the decades ahead, but changes in rainfall are more uncertain. Changes in weather extremes are expected, although the likely magnitudes of these are currently unclear. HyCRISTAL aims to tackle current uncertainties that exist around climate change projections for the region, concentrating in particular on what they mean for the availability and management of water. HyCRISTAL is working with the region’s decision-makers to integrate this information into current long-term planning and decision-making.
HyCRISTAL works with users to deliver world-leading climate research quantifying uncertainty from natural variability, uncertainty from climate forcings including those previously unassessed, and uncertainty in response to these forcings; including uncertainties from key processes such as convection and land-atmosphere coupling that are misrepresented in global models. Research is delivering a new understanding of the mechanisms that drive the uncertainty in projections. HyCRISTAL will use this information to understand trends and provide a process-based expert judgement on projections.
The work involves improving the understanding of key climate-water processes in the region, and working in partnership with climate-impacts scientists, practitioners and a wide range of stakeholders to apply this knowledge to decision making.
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