|Road traffic is one of the most important sources for air pollution in the rapidly growing cities in southern West Africa. (Foto: C. Liousse, UPS/CNRS)|
West Africa’s population is growing rapidly, but it is uniquely exposed to complex meteorology, an uncertain climate future and rapidly increasing air pollution Over the next 5 years, the EU project DACCIWA, will make extensive measurements in the region, will develop new weather and climate models and will help to inform policies for the region. 16 partners from six countries will investigate the whole scientific chain from natural and anthropogenic emissions to impacts on climate, ecosystems and health. The KIT-coordinated project starts on 1st December 2013 with funding of almost nine million Euros.
With the largest population growth on Earth, massive urbanisation and rapid economic growth, southern West Africa is changing fast. The rapidly growing cities are mostly located along the coast, with agricultural and forested areas immediately inland. Emissions from cities have been increasing explosively, due to, amongst other things, increased road traffic using often out-dated technology. Whilst the increase of fine particles has led to an enhancement of respiratory diseases within the the cities, ozone produced downwind of the cities is likely to impact the health of the rural population and reduce agricultural production.
According to a recent World Bank report, West Africa will be the region that suffers the most from climate change. Massive conversion of natural forests into agricultural land also affects the climate locally. In addition, the combination of anthropogenic emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, and the natural emissions from plants can lead to the formation of solid and liquid aerosol particles suspended in the air. These can enhance the formation of clouds – a potential creating a largely unquantified regional climate factor. “We suspect that the enhanced cloudiness could impact on the entire monsoon system”, explains Prof Peter Knippertz of the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Changes in West Africa can impact remote regions. “We know for example that the West Africa monsoon interacts with the Indian monsoon and that it influences Atlantic hurricane activity.” reports Knippertz. However, due to a lack of observations and previous studies, our understanding the meteorological, physical, and chemical processes occurring in this region is poor. Other regions would therefore benefit from a better understanding of this West African region.
|The Falcon Research Aircraft of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in flight over West Africa. The photo shows a thick haze near the ground and various types of clouds. (Photo: P. Williams, University of Manchester)|
Prof Knippertz coordinates the new interdisciplinary project DACCIWA (Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa) that will start on 1st December 2013 and run for 4.5 years. The EU funds this project as part of its 7th Framework Programme. The total funding volumn amounts to €8.75M, 1.88 Millionen of which go to KIT. DACCIWA involves 16 scientific partner organisations from Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, Ghana and Nigeria. The scientific emphasis is on the investigation of the interaction of clouds and aerosols.
Through DACCIWA, researchers will collect a wealth of new observations through a comprehensive field campaign that involves research aircrafts, ground-based instrumentation and satellites. The resulting dataset together with numerous modelling activities will enable a better understanding of all relevant meteorological, physical and chemical processes from emissions through to cloud formation, radiation, and precipitation to finally the regional circulation and climate. The aim is to develop a new generation of weather and climate models and to better predict monsoon rains and climate change. “The lessons learned from DACCIWA will be transferable to other monsoon regions and support policymaking in the development sector”, says Prof Peter Knippertz.
Together with two other consortia that look at the role of aerosol in the climate system, DACCIWA will form a European research cluster “Aerosols and Climate”. The cluster will be inaugurated at a kick-off event in the “Albert Einstein” Science Park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam, Germany, on 5th December 2013 from 9am. Information on the research cluster and the kick-off event are available at http://www.aerosols-climate.org