West Africa is regarded as one of the poorest regions of the world. A changing climate can lead to severe negative impacts on the livelihood of local population since the majority of people subsist on minor incomes produced in agriculture with little or no reserve for poorer years. This situation is even worsened in future due to the enormous population growth associated with an increased demand of resources such as agriculturally useful land and drinking water. To tackle these problems, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) started an initiative in collaboration with German and West African institutions to establish a West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL). A primary objective of WASCAL is the development of efficient strategies for an adapted land use to reduce negative impacts of climate change and land use change. The foundation of the science service centre is accompanied by three further core activities:
The University of Augsburg makes significant contributions to all WASCAL activities. It constitutes the counterpart of the Federal University of Technology in Akure (FUTA), Nigeria, hosting the graduate research program “West African Climate System”. In the next three years ten doctoral students per year are trained by climate scientists of the FUTA and further international experts.
The Chair for Regional Climate and Hydrology is responsible for the coordination and realization of the climate activities within the core research program of WASCAL. The primary objective is the development of a regional climate modelling system for refining the coarse information of global climate models and for providing regional climate projections. The core of this modelling system is a fully coupled atmospheric-hydrological model framed by multivariate statistical techniques for bias correction and local refinement. The regional climate modelling system is a key tool in WASCAL to investigate the effects of land surface changes on atmosphere and hydrosphere. A further objective is the development and advancement of techniques to predict hydro-meteorological extremes and climate variables needed for a hydrological and agricultural management. The techniques are tested and evaluated for specific regions such as the core research sites of WASCAL. The development of the regional climate modelling system is accompanied by the installation of climate and eddy covariance stations which facilitate the monitoring of climate variables and which are capable of measuring the exchange processes between land surface and near-ground atmosphere. The methods and climate information within this program play a key role for subsequent studies.
Many activities within the core research program are performed jointly with the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Centre for Development Research of the University of Bonn, the German Climate Computing Centre, the climate division of the Competence Centre, the German Aerospace Centre, the FUTA, the national and international West African weather and hydrological services and many further institutions from Germany and West Africa.