terça-feira, 13 de setembro de 2011

Horngate: how contamination has been going on

Following the exposure of Horngate, I've investigated how bad science and projections from IPCC, regarding more rainfall in Eastern Africa, have contaminated other studies and planning from international organizations. What one finds is terrifying! The following pointers are probably only the tip of the iceberg. If readers know of more interesting cases, please let me know, and I'll add them further down.

I could start in many places. Take a look at Christian Aid, a registered charity in the UK. They are asking for money for East Africa right now (left side image is from their site), but what were they saying in 2009?

In eastern Africa, rainfall could increase and water supplies may therefore improve. Somalia, for example, is expected to see a 20 per cent rise in rainfall, boosting the water it receives from rivers by ten times the current supply (de Wit y Stankiewicz, 2006). A negative impact of higher rainfall may be that it creates conditions for mosquitoes to breed, exacerbating the incidence of malaria.

Collier et al., in Climate Change and Africa, are also optimistic, but their percentage is lower (sort of, because it can be more...):

In eastern Africa, including the Horn of Africa, and parts of central Africa average rainfall is likely to increase (by 15% or more).

In 2010, International Livestock Research Institute published a report intitled Climate variability and climate change and their impacts on Kenya’s agricultural sector, by Herrero et al. Following the Executive Summary, their first main observation is:

Kenya might get wetter. In Kenya, as in most of East Africa, there are very few places where rainfall means are likely to decrease. The increase in rainfall in East Africa, extending into the Horn of Africa, is robust across the ensemble of GCMs, with 18 of 21 models projecting an increase in the core of this region, east of the Great Lakes.

In this report to the World Bank from 2010, Bryan et al., try a more conservative approach. It is not the timeframe that is important, but also the "mean", referencing the above Herrero report:

In East Africa, there are very few places where rainfall means are likely to decrease, however, increases in rainfall are not likely to lead to increases in agricultural productivity as a result of poor spacing and timing of precipitation increase.

In an impressive report, in January this year, the Institute for Environmental Security also had some "good news" for the Horn of Africa:

The good news is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that in the long term in East Africa the average rainfall is expected to increase. Water stress will therefore possibly decrease in large parts of the Horn. Although large variations in rainfall (e.g. floods) can have a destructive effect on crops this climatic change may generally have positive effects for agricultural development and food security in the region. So, although temperatures are expected to have an adverse effect, rainfall patterns may positively affect food security in the Horn of Africa.

And people start talking about this stuff. Dr Mark Collins, a Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, gave a speech in the opening plenary of the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2007. I would expect that the boys and girls there won't remember what he said:

In the short-term the most obvious impacts arising from climate change concern the global redistribution of water resources. Severe reduction in rainfall is expected in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Southern Africa and Australia. Increases in rainfall are expected across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Indian sub-continent.

Modeling over bad models, gives bad results. Doherty et al., in a paper intitled Implications of future climate and atmospheric CO2 content for regional biogeochemistry, biogeography and ecosystem services across East Africa say that a wetter East Africa is good:

Overall, our model results suggest that East Africa, a populous and economically poor region, is likely to experience some ecosystem service benefits through increased precipitation, river runoff and fresh water availability.

For those who say that the rain will only come in 2080, Doherty shows us some pretty neat graphics from the global models. Sure, in the first image below, temperatures are going to rise. In the second image, we can see the precipitation anomalies with respect to the 1981–2000 period (mmday-1). Finally, in the last image, one can see the vegetation carbon anomalies. Quite clear that we shouldn't be waiting for 2080 to expect some quick results...

While the drought is underway, they just keep publishing. The most recent on the list was published in the July edition of the Journal of Climate. Intitled Projected Changes in Mean and Extreme Precipitation in Africa under Global Warming. Part II: East Africa, also available here, in the abstract it is also clear that it should be getting wetter now, not in some decades:

There is substantial evidence in support of a positive shift of the whole rainfall distribution in East Africa during the wet seasons. The models give indications for an increase in mean precipitation rates and intensity of high rainfall events but for less severe droughts. Upward precipitation trends are projected from early this (twenty first) century.

From the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, of the Imperial College of London, you get another fabulous document from 2009: The science of climate change in Africa: impacts and adaptation. In the first page, the only "good" news is:

In eastern Africa, including the Horn of Africa, and parts of central Africa average rainfall is likely to increase.

These conclusions then get included into official documents. Like this one from UN CC-­DARE. And I could go on and on... But if I can do these discoveries in an hour of dedication, imagine what more time could do... So, if you've got till the end of this post, and you know more of them, let me know (email on the top left of the blog)...