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Christian Siderius; Seshagiri R. Kolusu; Martin C. Todd; Ajay Bhave; Andy J. Dougill; Chris C.J. Reason; David D. Mkwambisi; Japhet J. Kashaigili; Joanna Pardoe; Julien J. Harou; Katharine Vincent; Neil C.G. Hart; Rachel James; Richard Washington; Robel T. Geressu; Declan Conway

The need to assess major infrastructure performance under a changing climate is widely recognized yet rarely practiced, particularly in rapidly growing African economies. Here, we consider high-stakes investments across the water, energy, and food sectors for two major river basins in a climate transition zone in Africa. We integrate detailed interpretation of observed and modeled climate-system behavior with hydrological modeling and decision-relevant performance metrics. For the Rufiji River in Tanzania, projected risks for the mid-21st century are similar to those of the present day, but for the Lake Malawi-Shire River, future risk exceeds that experienced during the 20th century. In both basins a repeat of an early-20th century multi-year drought would challenge the viability of proposed infrastructure. A long view, which emphasizes past and future changes in variability, set within a broader context of climate-information interpretation and decision making, is crucial for screening the risk to infrastructure.

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Catherine A Senior, John H Marsham, Sègoléne Berthou, Laura E Burgin, Sonja S Folwell, Elizabeth J Kendon, Cornelia M Klein, Richard G Jones, Neha Mittal, David P Rowell, Lorenzo Tomassini, Thèo Vischel, Bernd Becker, Cathryn E Birch, Julia Crook, Andrew J Dougill, Declan L Finney, Richard J Graham, Neil C G Hart, Christopher D Jack, Lawrence S Jackson, Rachel James, Bettina Koelle, Herbert Misiani, Brenda Mwalukanga, Douglas J Parker, Rachel A Stratton, Christopher M Taylor, Simon O Tucker, Caroline M Wainwright, Richard Washington, and Martin R Willet

Pan-Africa convection-permitting regional climate model simulations have been performed to study the impact of high resolution and the explicit representation of atmospheric moist convection on the present and future climate of Africa. These unique simulations have allowed European and African climate scientists to understand the critical role that the representation of convection plays in the ability of a contemporary climate model to capture climate and climate change, including many impact relevant aspects such as rainfall variability and extremes. There are significant improvements in not only the small-scale characteristics of rainfall such as its intensity and diurnal cycle, but also in the large-scale circulation. Similarly effects of explicit convection affect not only projected changes in rainfall extremes, dry-spells and high winds, but also continental-scale circulation and regional rainfall accumulations. The physics underlying such differences are in many cases expected to be relevant to all models that use parameterized convection. In some cases physical understanding of small-scale change mean that we can provide regional decision makers with new scales of information across a range of sectors. We demonstrate the potential value of these simulations both as scientific tools to increase climate process understanding and, when used with other models, for direct user applications. We describe how these ground-breaking simulations have been achieved under the UK Government’s Future Climate for Africa Programme. We anticipate a growing number of such simulations, which we advocate should become a routine component of climate projection, and encourage international co-ordination of such computationally, and human-resource expensive simulations as effectively as possible.

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UMFULA researchers

This brief synthesises the results of undertaking a climate risk analysis for the Rufiji River Basin, Tanzania. The basin supports extensive socio-economic and environmental services and is targeted for major development via hydropower infrastructure and investment through the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania. The implications of climate risk for development objectives that cut across the water-energy-food-environment sectors are outlined and recommendations proposed to help achieve climate resilient sustainable development.

The brief is for practitioners and technical policy-makers with a detailed interest in understanding development processes and the impacts of climate change in the Rufiji River Basin. The approach is relevant for other large river basins undergoing rapid development.

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Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change because of its heightened sensitivity to climate variability and inadequate institutional adaptive capacity. Notwithstanding these challenges, Africa, and its inhabitants, have been confronting the vagaries of climate for centuries, including severe droughts and floods. Given this context, this paper provides a commentary on the efforts to ensure and enable climate services on the continent as well as a critical, reflexive assessment of activities in this varied landscape. A special focus on the institutional frameworks and the underlying knowledge systems that support and interface with climate services will be examined. A central question underpinning the paper is: to what extent is the expanding landscape of climate services being endogenously driven in Africa? Finally, some recommendations for future efforts to enhance effective institutions and knowledge brokering and facilitate better climate services in Africa are suggested.

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Sorensen, J. P., Diaw, M. T., Pouye, A., Roffo, R., Diongue, D. M., Faye, S. C., ... & Taylor, R. G

We explore in-situ fluorescence spectroscopy as an instantaneous indicator of total bacterial abundance and faecal contamination in drinking water. Eighty-four samples were collected outside of the recharge season from groundwater-derived water sources in Dakar, Senegal. Samples were analysed for tryptophan-like (TLF) and humic-like (HLF) fluorescence in-situ, total bacterial cells by flow cytometry, and potential indicators of faecal contamination such as thermotolerant coliforms (TTCs), nitrate, and in a subset of 22 samples, dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Significant single-predictor linear regression models demonstrated that total bacterial cells were the most effective predictor of TLF, followed by on-site sanitation density; TTCs were not a significant predictor. An optimum multiple-predictor model of TLF incorporated total bacterial cells, nitrate, nitrite, on-site sanitation density, and sulphate (r2 0.68). HLF was similarly related to the same parameters as TLF, with total bacterial cells being the best correlated (ρs 0.64). In the subset of 22 sources, DOC clustered with TLF, HLF, and total bacterial cells, and a linear regression model demonstrated HLF was the best predictor of DOC (r2 0.84). The intergranular nature of the aquifer, timing of the study, and/or non-uniqueness of the signal to TTCs can explain the significant associations between TLF/HLF and indicators of faecal contamination such as on-site sanitation density and nutrients but not TTCs. The bacterial population that relates to TLF/HLF is likely to be a subsurface community that develops in-situ based on the availability of organic matter originating from faecal sources. In-situ fluorescence spectroscopy instantly indicates a drinking water source is impacted by faecal contamination but it remains unclear how that relates specifically to microbial risk in this setting.

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Sorensen, J. P., Carr, A. F., Nayebare, J., Diongue, D. M., Pouye, A., Roffo, R., ... & Taylor, R. G.

Fluorescent natural organic matter at tryptophan-like (TLF) and humic-like fluorescence (HLF) peaks is associated with the presence and enumeration of faecal indicator bacteria in groundwater. We hypothesise, however, that it is predominantly extracellular material that fluoresces at these wavelengths, not bacterial cells. We quantified total (unfiltered) and extracellular (filtered at < 0.22 µm) TLF and HLF in 140 groundwater sources across a range of urban population densities in Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, and Uganda. Where changes in fluorescence occurred following filtration they were correlated with potential controlling variables. A significant reduction in TLF following filtration (ΔTLF) was observed across the entire dataset, although the majority of the signal remained and thus considered extracellular (median 96.9%). ΔTLF was only significant in more urbanised study areas where TLF was greatest. Beneath Dakar, Senegal, ΔTLF was significantly correlated to total bacterial cells (ρs 0.51). No significant change in HLF following filtration across all data indicates these fluorophores are extracellular. Our results suggest that TLF and HLF are more mobile than faecal indicator bacteria and larger pathogens in groundwater, as the predominantly extracellular fluorophores are less prone to straining. Consequently, TLF/HLF are more precautionary indicators of microbial risks than faecal indicator bacteria in groundwater-derived drinking water.

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Eric Mensah Mortey, Kouakou Lazare Kouassi,Arona Diedhiou, Sandrine Anquetin, Mathieu Genoud,Benoit Hingray and Didier Guy Marcel Kouame.

Management of hydroelectric dams is an aspect of sustainability that comes with resolving problems locally. The use of global indicators has not been a sustainable solution, thus the need for local indicators. Besides, current sustainability assessment tools lack the integration of climate, making assessments in a climate change context impossible. In this paper, we present management and sustainability assessment in a climate change context using sustainability indicators. We modeled a change in the climate using normal, moderate, and extreme climate conditions defined by Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPI) values. Out of 36 years analyzed, 24 years fall in the near-normal climate regime, and the remaining 12 years in moderate and extreme conditions, making near-normal climate regime the basis for managing the Taabo Dam. The impact of climate, techno-economic, and socio-environmental indicators on sustainability were investigated, and the results were analyzed according to scenarios. Climate adaptation shows higher sustainability indices than techno-economic and socio-environmental scenarios. Probability matrices show high and low values, respectively, for environmental and flooding indicators. Risk matrices, on the other hand, show that even with small probability values, risks still exist, and such small probabilities should not be taken as an absence of risk. The study reveals that sustainability can be improved by integrating climate into existing assessment methods.

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Callum Munday, Richard Washington, Neil Hart.

Uncertainty in the future evolution of tropical rainfall is linked to circulation changes under warming. In Africa, a key barrier to interpreting rainfall changes is our limited understanding of water vapor transport across the continent. Here, we show that a series of nocturnal easterly Low‐Level Jets (LLJs), which form in the valleys punctuating the East African rift system, transport the majority of water vapor to central Africa from the Indian Ocean. There is a robust connection between strengthened LLJs and drought in eastern and southern Africa at interannual timescales, mediated by an increase in low‐level divergence and water vapor export. Analysis of climate model simulations at a wide range of resolutions (250–4.5 km) suggests that grid lengths <60 km are needed to simulate the salient structures of LLJs. The failure of coarse resolution models to capture LLJs is linked with biases in rainfall climatology and variability across the continent.

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David Crowhurst, Simon Dadson, Jian Peng & Richard Washington

Evaporation is a crucial driver of Congo Basin climate, but the dynamics controlling the seasonality of basin evaporation are not well understood. This study aims to discover why evaporation on the basin-wide average is lower at the November rainfall peak than the March rainfall peak, despite similar rainfall. Using 16-year mean LandFlux-EVAL data, we find that evaporation is lower in November than March in the rainforest and the eastern savannah. The ERA5-Land reanalysis, which effectively reproduces this pattern, shows that transpiration is the main component responsible for lower evaporation in these regions. Using ERA5-Land, we find the following contrasting controls on transpiration, and therefore evaporation, at the two rainfall peaks: (a) In the northern rainforest, there is lower leaf area index (LAI) in November, driven by lower surface downward shortwave radiation (DSR), and lower vapour pressure deficit (VPD) in November, driven by lower sensible heat flux that results from lower net radiation. The combination of lower LAI and VPD explains lower transpiration, and therefore lower evaporation, in November. (b) In the southern rainforest, and in the north-eastern savannah, there is lower LAI in November, driven by lower surface DSR, and this explains lower transpiration, and therefore lower evaporation, in November. (c) In the south-eastern savannah, there is lower LAI in November, driven by lower volumetric water content (VWC), and this explains lower transpiration, and therefore lower evaporation, in November. Collectively, these contrasting controls at the two rainfall peaks explain why the basin-wide average evaporation is lower in November than March.

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Bickle M, Marsham J, Ross A, Rowell D, Parker D, Taylor C.

Squall lines dominate rainfall in the West African Sahel, and evidence suggests they have increased in intensity over recent decades. Stronger wind shear may be a key driver of this trend and could continue to strengthen with climate change. However, global numerical models struggle to capture the role of shear for organised convection, making predictions of changing rainfall intensities in the Sahel uncertain. To investigate the impact of recent and possible future environmental changes, and to isolate thermodynamic effects from shear effects, idealised squall line simulations were initialised with a profile representative of the present day: this profile was then modified using trends from reanalyses and climate projections. Increased shear led to increased storm intensity and rainfall, but the effects of the thermodynamic changes dominated the effects from shear. Simulations initiated with future profiles produced shorter‐lived storms, likely due to increased convective inhibition and the absence of large‐scale convergence or synoptic variability in the idealised model. A theoretical model based on the relative inflow of convectively unstable air and moisture was found to predict bulk characteristics of the storms accurately, including mean rain rates and area‐averaged maximum vertical velocities, explaining the role of shear. However, the model is not a prognostic tool as rainfall is dependent on the storm speed, which remains a free parameter. The study shows the importance of shear to long‐term rainfall trends and highlights the need for climate models to include effects of shear to capture changes in extreme rainfall.

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