While the results of the workshop are still to be published, a number of first tentative conclusions can be drawn: There is agreement among regional and global climate model projections of enhanced low-level surface warming over the Sahara due to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. This amplified warming is currently observed; the Sahara has warmed at three times the rate of the global mean in the last 30 years. Models which include atmospheric, oceanic and vegetation dynamics also indicate some greening in the Sahel. Theoretical studies suggest that in some regions of West Africa, the impact of climate change on land use rivals or even exceeds the impact of socioeconomic drivers. The impact of future land use change on regional climate in West Africa is, however, expected to be small.
The Sahel, and Northern Africa in general, seems to be highly vulnerable to climate change, due to (1) increases in temperature, precipitation variability and population growth, (2) water scarcity and high dependence on rain-fed agriculture, and (3) a limited adaptive capacity as a result of poverty and political instability. Under certain conditions climate change is likely to aggravate existing conflicts between resource users (e.g. farmers and herders) while other conflict causes including political instability, marginalization and land use policies are likely to remain more important drivers of conflict.
The workshop was funded by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and the Cluster of Excellence CliSAP.
Complete report (PDF)