Towards a feasible and representative pan-African research infrastructure network for GHG observations uri icon

abstract

  • There is currently a lack of representative, systematic and harmonised greenhouse gas (GHG) observations covering the variety of natural and human-altered biomes that occur in Africa. This impedes the long-term assessment of the drivers of climate change, in addition to their impacts and feedback loops at the continental scale, but also limits our understanding of the contribution of the African continent to the global carbon (C) cycle. Given the current and projected transformation of socio-economic conditions in Africa (i.e. the increasing trend of urbanisation and population growth) and the adverse impacts of climate change, the development of a GHG research infrastructure (RI) is needed to support the design of suitable mitigation and adaptation strategies required to assure food, fuel, nutrition and economic security for the African population. This paper presents the initial results of the EU-African SEACRIFOG project, which aims to design a GHG observation RI for Africa. The first stages of this project included the identification and engagement of key stakeholders, the definition of the conceptual monitoring framework and an assessment of existing infrastructural capacity. Feedback from stakeholder sectors was obtained through three Stakeholder Consultation Workshops held in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. Main concerns identified were data quality and accessibility, the need for capacity building and networking among the scientific community, and adaptation to climate change, which was confirmed to be a priority for Africa. This feedback in addition to input from experts in the atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic thematic areas, facilitated the selection of a set of 'essential variables' that need to be measured in the future environmental RI. An inventory of 47 existing and planned networks across the continent allowed for an assessment of the current RIs needs and gaps in Africa. Overall, the development of a harmonised and standardised pan-African RI will serve to address the continent's primary societal and scientific challenges through a potential cross-domain synergy among existing and planned networks at regional, continental and global scales.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018