Implications of land use change in tropical Northern Africa under global warming

Brücher, Tim, Claussen, M. and Raddatz, T. (2015) Implications of land use change in tropical Northern Africa under global warming Earth System Dynamics, 6 . pp. 769-780. DOI 10.5194/esd-6-769-2015.

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A major link between climate and humans in Northern Africa, and the Sahel in particular, is land use and associated land cover change, mainly where subsistence farming prevails. Here we assess possible feedbacks between the type of land use and harvest intensity and climate by analyzing a series of idealized GCM experiments using the MPI-ESM. The base line for these experiments is a simulation forced by the RCP8.5 scenario which includes strong greenhouse gas emissions and anthropogenic land cover changes. The anthropogenic land cover changes in the RCP8.5 scenario include a mixture of pasture and agriculture. In subsequent simulations, we replace the entire area affected by anthropogenic land cover change in the region between the Sahara in the North and the Guinean Coast in the South (4 to 20° N) by either pasture or agriculture, respectively. In a second setup we vary the amount of harvest in case of agriculture. The RCP8.5 base line simulation reveals strong changes in mean agriculture and monsoon rainfall. In comparison with these changes, any variation of the type of land use in the study area leads to very small, mostly insignificantly small, additional differences in mean temperature and annual precipitation change in this region. Within the uncertainty of the representation of land use in current ESMs, our study suggests marginal feedback between land use changes and climate changes triggered by strong greenhouse gas emissions. Hence as a good approximation, climate change can be considered as external driver in models of land-use – conflict dynamics when seasonal or mean values are used as external driver.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.5194/esd-6-769-2015
ISSN: 2190-4979
Projects: CliSAP
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2015 15:54
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2017 09:16

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