Earth System Modeling as a tool for data and knowledge

In this pilot, we will work on the evaluation and specific improvements of the parametrisations of land-surface attributes of the first African Earth System Model that provides many climate services. The model consists of three main components, namely the conformal-cubic atmospheric model (CCAM) developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, a dynamic land-surface model CABLE (CSIRO Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange) and a global ocean model developed at the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

We will perform simulations where the model is nudged within the ERA5 reanalysis data for the period 1979-2021, thereby forcing the simulations to be consistent with historical weather patterns, and proceed to evaluate a number of land-atmosphere fluxes and attributes of the simulated land-surface against observations. Additionally, we will take stock of new Earth Observation datasets and in situ observation network to advance the development and assess regional biases of the African-based Earth System Models.

The outcome of this pilot study will help to identify hotspots of carbon flux interannual variations and underlying drivers across Africa, with a specific focus on Southern Africa. It will also help to identify model systematic errors and the need for new observations, in particular for completing atmospheric and eddy covariance networks, building upon the work of SEACRIFOG on network design.

Coastal bio-geochemistry as a crucial part of the climate and carbon system

In this pilot we will work on quantifying key elements of the coastal carbon cycle relevant to usage of the ocean and the role the coastal ocean plays in regulating global climate. We will use monitoring stations at key sites along the coast of South Africa in Algoa Bay, adjacent to Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha and in St Helena Bay, on the West Coast. Both sites have been selected for their societal importance (Algoa Bay is a Marine Nature reserve, St Helena Bay is a major fishing town) and because of the long-term data series in these regions. We will pilot the value chain of ocean carbon observations in both regions, ranging from innovating and trailing technologies, through to observations, data archiving, data synthesis and communications with end users.

This task will will support both an integrated understanding of system function in each region (valuable in its own right) but also support the integration of this understanding into the large-scale numerical models we use to predict the future evolution of climate.

We will also use the pilot monitoring sites as platforms to deliver training courses.

Cities as complex societal systems for climate services

In this pilot we will take a closer look at the local climate service infrastructures and solutions for rapidly growing cities of Africa. We explore how observations of for example greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and heat can be combined with other critical data of human and natural assets for integrated urban climate services in three African cities: Abidjan, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The goal is to develop data and research driven infrastructures and partnerships, which are able to combine high-precision observations, low-cost sensors and citizen science approaches with other digital data sets of urban environments and assets.

The aim is to pilot and also validate these integrated local climate service models particularly from their capacity to support informed decision-making and improve quality of life in the cities.

Experiences as an inevitable part of the human dimension of research infrastructures

In this pilot we aim to summarise, integrate, and assess the value of existing long-term climate observations in order to provide a guidebook of the lessons learned. These are expected to be an essential part of a future climate observation research infrastructure in Africa.

We have chosen Kenya as the ideal showcase for this pilot, due to the already existing infrastructures for atmospheric observations as well as continuous ecosystem flux measurements, and the well-established long-term cooperation with European scientists.