New CPDN publication is part of Special Issue on “Change in African rainforests: past present and future”

The African tropics contain the second largest area of tropical rainforest in the world, the green heart of an otherwise generally dry continent. These rainforests have global significance and value as reservoirs of biodiversity, as stores and sinks of atmospheric carbon, as regulators of flow of mighty rivers, as sources of moisture to the atmosphere and engines of the global atmospheric circulation, as a key component of the Earth system and its biogeochemical cycles, and as providers of resources and ecosystem services to local communities and the region’s nations. The high profile scientific journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B have published a special issue today dedicated to the latest research on the past, present and future of this important ecosystem. Led by Friederike Otto, scientists from CPDN contributed a study demonstrating methods on the “Attribution of changes in precipitation patterns in African rainforests”.

Despite their importance for the global climate system, the tropical rainforests in Africa are one of the most under-researched regions in the world, but research in the Amazonian rainforest suggests potential vulnerability to climate change. Using the very large ensemble model simulations provided by our dedicated participants running weather@home, we found there was a close match with the observed data. On this basis, we performed an attribution study on changes in extreme precipitation in the region.

The study highlights that attribution analysis provides valuable scientific evidence of climatological changes, especially in regions with sparse observational data and equivocal projections of future changes. However, tropical precipitation provides more challenges in the setup of attribution studies than midlatitude rainfall.

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