By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Ghana is one of two countries in West Africa to host supersites for a major research to develop a comprehensive dataset for the next generation of weather and climate models.
Benin is the other country involved in the three-year project funded by the European Union at a cost of 7million euros.
Massive economic and population growth and urbanization are expected to lead to a tripling of human emissions in southern West Africa between 2000 and 2030. The impacts on human health, ecosystems, food security and the regional climate are largely unknown.
The Dynamics-Aerosol-Chemistry-Cloud Interactions in West Africa (DACCIWA) project, therefore, aims to provide “a comprehensive scientific assessment of the impacts of the projected rapid increases in anthropogenic emissions on air quality, human health, ecosystems, agricultural productivity, water availability, energy production and local to regional climate.”
The host of the project in Ghana is the Meteorology and Climate Science Unit of the Department of Physics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where an intensive field campaign is underway to assess the impact of population growth on the climate.
“Local farmers are going to get better forecast products; they are also going to have direct interactions with experts and good scientific papers and policy briefs are expected to come to inform policy,” said Dr. Leonard Amekudzi, project scientist and a climate change and atmospheric scientist.
According to him, ground-based data from the soil to the top-elm atmospheric measurement will help understand the processes that are inducing the changes in the climate system over the entire region.
Climate change is a long-term shift in the weather conditions, caused by both natural and human factors that lead to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Arguably, the largest single source of uncertainty in the study of global climate change is the effect of aerosols on clouds.
The surface observations to be made at the supersites include a ceilometer to measure cloud top and base heights, a sounding system for launching balloons with radiosondes, a weather station and other instruments to measure surface radiometric properties and atmospheric composition.
Dr. Barbara Brooks of the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science explains the research activity will ultimately lead to reduced uncertainties in climate predictions which impact on agricultural production, health and livelihoods.
“We do the measurement, we do the science; we then try to persuade the people who can actually made decisions – politicians – to do something, to put policies in place, so they can mitigate any changes that you see,” she said.
Climate change has emerged as the biggest global management challenge, affecting livelihoods, environment and economies.
Climate finance and technology transfer remain critical for vulnerable economies in Africa and other developing economies to survive the future.
The World Bank has warned that the current level of climate adaptation funding which is insufficient could trigger extreme poverty in Africa by 2030.
Without coping mechanisms in place, there will be lower crop yields, higher food prices and negative health impacts from climate change.
The comprehensive dataset from the proposed field campaign under the DACCIWA project provides a wide range of modeling activities that will help improve the monitoring of climate and atmospheric compositions.
The most important goal is to inform local stakeholders about the effects of rapid population growth on human and ecosystem health in southern West Africa.