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Dynamics and thermodynamics of extreme precipitation events in Africa under climate change

Academic lead
John Marsham (Earth and Environment)
Industrial lead
Caroline Ray, Arup and Dave Rowell, Met Office
Mark Trigg (Civil Engineering)
Project themes
Environmental Flows

Understanding changes in weather extremes under climate change is recognised internationally as a problem of urgent international importance (e.g. the Grand Challenges of World Climate Research Programme). For Africa, where millions are vulnerable to extremes, there is also an urgent need for practical uptake of new information on these extremes. Extreme rainfall is expected to increase, with consequences for flooding, which is already a major problem in Africa’s rapidly growing cities. Past studies have shown how changes in extreme rain are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity, storm dynamics, storm speeds and changing local or remote circulations that initiate storms. Until now, it has been impossible to capture these interacting changes in a single regional atmospheric model, but the Future Climate for Africa programme has produced 10-year simulations of climate change for the whole of Africa at an unprecedented 4.5 km grid-spacing, that resolves individual storms. This step-change provides a unique opportunity for new fundamental understanding. The project will use these runs, together with theory, observations, and possibly other models to understand the processes controlling future storms and use this to provide information on future change to hydrologists and engineers, which is relevant to both their research and real-world decisions.