AMMA-2050: African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis 2050

Project Timeline
1 Jul 15 - 31 Mar 21
Project Contact
Victoria Barlow, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Project Manager

Livelihoods in West Africa are at risk to the climatic variability presented in the region. West Africa, in recent decades, has experienced extreme rainfall variability. In the 1970s and 1980s, the climate variability in the West Africa region contributed to a pervasive and protracted drought that resulted in a famine. In subsequent years, there was an increase in seasonal rainfall in the Sahel that contributed to floods that further devastated the region. The physical causes of historical climate variability are well understood, however, understanding future climate variability is hampered by an uncertainty of future greenhouse gas emissions, land cover change and aerosols affecting future climate variability and rainfall. This uncertainty, coupled with the weak capability to plan investments on decadal timescales, results in the limited climate change knowledge being used as a guide in development decision-making.

The African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) 2050 team aim to increase the understanding of the regional climate and how it will change, applying this knowledge to practical development questions. AMMA-2050 aim to address the challenges of understanding how the monsoon will change in future decades, to 2050, and how this information can be most effectively used to support climate-compatible development in the region. By applying expert judgement, AMMA-2050 will identify adaptation options in water resources and agriculture.

AMMA-2050 will improve understanding of how the West African monsoon will be affected by climate change in the coming decades – and help West African societies prepare and adapt. AMMA-2050 are conducting pilot studies that are focused on the issues of urban flooding in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and climate-smart agriculture in Senegal.

In Senegal, AMMA-2050 will provide women and marginalised groups with information regarding future crop yields, water availability and suitable adaptation options. Senegal is developing national adaptation plans, agricultural plans and determining sectoral National Determined Contributions (NDCs). These present opportunities for AMMA-2050 to engage with national and regional decision-makers. AMMA-2050 is preparing for a forum with national and regional decision-makers in Dakar to inform these plans and NDCs.

In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, AMMA-2050 is supporting flood-resilient planning using new hydrological mapping models and associated future scenarios. To develop this mapping AMMA-2050 engaged with a group in Montpellier France (IRD who lead the Raincell project in Ouaga) and established a working remote connection to the Athys model developed by IRD. ATHYS (A Telier Hydrologique Spatialisé) is rainfall-runoff transformation model, developed by the Research Institute for Development (IRD) of Montpellier. The basic principles of ATHYS are a hydrological environment for distributed modelling, including a series of models, DEM processing, hydrological and rainfall data and geographical display, spatial data interpolation.

AMMA-2050 research focusing on the wider West Africa region will identify regions at particular risk of flooding now and in the future, to support planning and infrastructure. With climate variability and change one of the complex mix of factors contributing to increased urbanisation, migrant communities moving into Ouagadougou are also more likely to live in flood-prone areas.

The collaborative work between scientists and policymakers in West Africa and Europe aims to increase the understanding of the regional climate and how it will change, applying this knowledge to development questions in the West African region. The research is supported by traditional climate change computer models with observations and cutting-edge regional climate models. With an advanced method, these are used to assess how the West African climate is likely to change in future decades and understand weather events that significantly impact livelihoods. Applying expert judgement to these outputs, AMMA 2050 will identify impacts and adaptation options in water resources and agriculture, including targeted studies on urban flooding and crop breeding.

1. provide expert judgement on future projections of High Impact Weather and climate which is tailored specifically to the needs of decision-makers.

2. create tools and methodologies for using these projections for planning within the agricultural and hydrological sectors.

3. demonstrate the potential for effective application of reliable 5-40 year climate projections and associated uncertainties in regional to local scale decision-making.

AMMA 2050 will translate regional climate projections, accounting for physical uncertainty and socio-economic context, into regional projections for water resources and agriculture, including pilot studies on urban flooding and resilient agriculture. Decision makers will be integrated from the outset, using an ‘assess-risk-of-policy’ framing whereby decision makers will have an essential role in framing uncertainty descriptions – assisting users to take ownership of the research and simultaneously building capacity.

AMMA-2050 are working on two approved Innovation projects and are currently applying for a third. One is led by UCAD and is looking at coastal upwelling off the coast of Senegal with the inclusion of the impact this has on fisheries. The second Innovation project is on urban drainage in Ouagadougou – this links to the work of Barbara Evans in Hycristal where AMMA-2050 are looking at sanitation flows in Ouagadougou using the same approach developed in Hycristal.

The NERC Capital project, Urban Hydro-Met network 4 Africa is establishing a high-resolution Hydro-Meteorological network in three African cities located in Dakar (Senegal); Kampala (Uganda) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). This information will benefit the hydrological work being assessed in AMMA-2050 to evaluate model simulations of flood-producing storms.

Dakar, Senegal:

In Senegal for the agricultural sector, AMMA-2050 are modelling impacts of climate change on different landraces. The team are collecting information on the genomes of different crop varieties (and the genetic sequencing is currently underway); this information will then be linked to climate metrics for informing which traits are most likely needed in a future climate. Participatory modelling meetings are planned for June 2018 with high-level decision makers.

AMMA-2050 is also proposing to develop a MoU with the cross-party parliamentary network body, Réseau des Parlementaires pour la Protection de l’Environnement au Sénégal (REPES). In 2017, the Senegalese group commissioned a cross-sectoral review of how climate information has been integrated across public policy and the REPES Coordinator is keen to engage AMMA-2050 in informing this continuing discussion.

AMMA-2050 has also benefited from alignment with a complementary initiative of LOCEAN/IRD to develop a climate adaptation portal, being piloted in Senegal, designed to support decision makers. The survey undertaken to inform the portal clarified the types of climate information required to support decision-making institutions. A range of AMMA-2050 products, including the Climate Metrics Atlas, will be shared via this portal.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso:

2iE led Innovation Fund: Impact of Sanitation in flooding Risk in Ouagadougou. This joint pilot project involves AMMA-2050 and HyCRISTAL researchers. Using the knowledge of the current status, understanding of flood-affected areas of the city AMMA-2050 will then be able to develop the conceptual SFD model. The aim of the work is to understand the impacts of climate change on urban WASH systems by combining the SFD model of HyCRISTAL with the urban modelling work being done in AMMA-2050’s pilot study in Ouagadougou. There has been an exchange of flood data and sanitation information from 2iE to Leeds, using this, a preliminary set of information slides will be prepared for the upcoming stakeholder meeting in May in Burkina Faso. This will demonstrate how AMMA-2050 are integrating climate change information and flood information on urban WASH systems.

In both Senegal and Burkina Faso, AMMA-2050 are working with feedback from stakeholders that will be assessed to further support medium-term decision making.

The bulk of the project was completed in November 2019, but additional activities are continuing. The four activities below were identified as key to the success and legacy of AMMA-2050 and received further funding until March 2021:

  • Development of tools to describe changing rainfall patterns for engineers. This work involves creating Intensity Duration-Frequency (IDF) curves which capture the statistics of individual rain events and are used in designing infrastructure. The work involves combining different strands of information to provide the underpinning science on which AMMA-2050 can develop future IDF curves, and critically, their associated uncertainty. Our geographical focus expands out from our pilot study in Ouagadougou to the wider Western and Central Sahel. This activity will also include training for National Met Services in the provision of IDF curves.
  • Geo Portal – The primary access to AMMA-2050 information across Senegal is via a web-based Geo-Portal, co-funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are building on the success of this tool by incorporating the new CMIP6 data into the portal and to increase its use through a training and communication program on climate change impacts. Through this training we hope to further develop the cohort of trained researchers on the use of the web based Geo Portal and to acquire the necessary learning to accommodate feedback from users.
  • Engagement in Ouagadougou – Delivering training for non-technical decision makers on the following key learning points from AMMA-2050:
    • Key messages and implications arising from AMMA2050
    • Explaining tools and uncertainty in data Exploring flood maps and potential applications
    • How flood maps can feed into the Ouagadougou urban plan and the urban observatory
    • What is an IDF and how can they be developed and used
    • What are the additional needs of stakeholders


  • Training and Shared Learning – We aim to improve current understanding of future climate variability and change in West Africa, with particular focus on key learning from AMMA-2050. We will employ updated information slides on Key Messages and develop a finalised policy brief on this for a non-technical audience. Working with our ISRA partners we will also develop a training module on gender and inclusivity to be delivered alongside the training in Senegal and Ouagadougou. In the development of this module we will undertake a review of the implications of AMMA-2050 learning about climate change and high impact weather (HIW) for women and inclusivity.


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