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Climate change information for adapting to regional tipping points in Southern Africa



Southern Africa has been identified as a climate change hotspot in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (IPCC SR1.5). The region is currently warming at about twice the global warming rate, and is projected to continue warming significantly in the 21st century under a high emission scenario.

As much of the region is semi-arid with a hot and dry climate, the projected further warming and drying limits adaptation options. This, combined with the generally low socio-economic adaptive capacity of a developing region, makes southern Africa vulnerable to the future impacts of climate change. A particular risk for the region is that climate change and its impacts could occur abruptly, irreversibly and without warning, rather than gradually and incrementally over the coming decades. Such changes are named "tipping points". They can occur in climatological, hydrological, agricultural and ecological systems individually or together, with profound consequences for the ability of these systems to sustain human well-being and biodiversity.

The BMBF-funded project called SASSCAL-TIPPECC identifies critical tipping points in the climate and land use system of southern Africa in the areas of food security, water security and biodiversity conservation through a process of co-production, co-development and targeted research. In particular, the timing and location of potential crossings of tipping point thresholds in southern Africa under climate change are assessed using detailed, state-of-the-art regional climate projections and knowledge of system dynamics and tolerances. Furthermore, adaptation options are being formulated in a co-production process with stakeholders to increase the resilience of food, water and biodiversity conservation systems in southern Africa to tipping points caused by climate change. Moreover, a climate services web portal will be developed to provide climate change information, and projections of climate change impacts and adaptation options to a wide range of stakeholders in an accessible and understandable format.

GERICS contributes to SASSCAL-TIPPECC by generating a climate projection with a regionally coupled atmosphere-ocean model, and analysing regional climate change and selected climate indices in southern Africa. In addition, GERICS will support the co-design of the Climate Service Gateway to ensure usability, as well as the joint planning and implementation of Climate Service Gateway training workshops for end-users together with the project partners.

The project is coordinated by the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Other cooperation partners besides the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) are the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the University of Zambia, the University of Botswana and the Gobabeb Namib Research Institute.

SASSCAL-TIPPECC is an important contribution to the current Africa strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is financed through the funding measure "SASSCAL II - Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management". The funding measure SASSCAL II is an initiative of the BMBF as part of the framework program "Research for Sustainable Development" (FONA).

SASSCAL homepage


Dr. Torsten Weber

Phone: Tel: +49 (0) 40 226 338 436

Fax: Tel: +49 (0) 40 226 338 163

E-mail contact

Dr. Armelle Remedio

Phone: Tel: +49 (0) 40 226 338 418

Fax: Tel: +49 (0) 40 226 338 163

E-mail contact