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Dosio, A., Pinto, I., Lennard, C., Sylla, M.B., Jack, C. and Nikulin, G.

We assess the daily characteristics of recent past precipitation over Africa by means of a large ensemble of observational products, including reanalysis, gauge-based and satellite-based products. The spatial distribution of seasonal mean precipitation varies considerably amongst products especially over areas where gauge networks are sparse. Large uncertainties in the annual precipitation cycle are visible in particular over the Ethiopian Highlands, the eastern Sahel, the coasts of the gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa. Interannual variability shows large differences especially amongst reanalysis datasets whereas satellite and gauge based products usually show more consistent results.


Luis Garcia-Carreras, John H. Marsham, Rachel A. Stratton & Simon Tucker

The summertime Sahara and Sahel are the world’s largest source of airborne mineral dust. Cold-pool outflows from moist convection (‘haboobs’) are a dominant source of summertime uplift but are essentially missing in global models, raising major questions on the reliability of climate projections of dust and dust impacts. Here we use convection-permitting simulations of pan-African climate change, which explicitly capture haboobs, to investigate whether this key limitation of global models affects projections. We show that explicit convection is key to capturing the observed summertime maximum of dust-generating winds, which is missed with parameterised convection. Despite this, future climate changes in dust-generating winds are more sensitive to the effects of explicit convection on the wider meteorology than they are to the haboobs themselves, with model differences in the change in dust-generating winds reaching 60% of current values. The results therefore show the importance of improving convection in climate models for dust projections.


During the FRACTAL project, trans-disciplinary learning processes were implemented that aimed to support climate resilient development in nine southern African cities. These processes resulted in several lessons for research and society, particularly with regard to working towards inclusive, contextual, proactive climate research and action. 

The team brainstormed principles that underpinned climate resilience work in the project. Evidence from the programme was qualitatively analysed using the principles as a framework to uncover the mindsets and practices that supported  ‘the FRACTAL approach’.


 The FRACTAL project introduced new approaches to understanding issues and solutions in Harare. These approaches strengthened relationships among stakeholders and decision makers, and increased receptivity to issues of climate variability and change, especially how this receptivity might intersect with development. The project partly helped initiate an ongoing conversation around receptivity issues between various city stakeholders and researchers. Prior to FRACTAL, few (if any) city-focused climate knowledge projects had been implemented, implying that this conversation had not yet started. Stakeholders reflected on broader decision-making processes through FRACTAL (e.g. development decisions). They have reported useful conversations between decision makers and academia and are now more willing to work with one another to co-define issues and solutions.


 In Windhoek, FRACTAL contributed to developing the City of Windhoek’s new climate change strategy: the Integrated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (ICCSAP). FRACTAL implemented a city learning lab approach in Windhoek to support the development of the ICCSAP. This approach brought a range of stakeholders together, including academics, practitioners, NGOs and other organizations. 

During the labs, stakeholder groups unpacked climate-sensitive city issues and governance arrangements, deliberating the significance and implications of various climate scenarios. Other activities emerging from these labs included city exchange programs and transformational leadership training on climate change for decision-makers. The process enabled a different, inclusive approach to developing strategies, and resulted in real benefits for the city of Windhoek.


Durban is a self-funded FRACTAL city. As a result, the city could tailor the approach to FRACTAL research according to their specific needs and align it to current activities and approaches. 

The aim for the embedded researcher (ER) was to look at ways to integrate climate information into biodiversity planning. To achieve this the ER worked with stakeholders from eThekwini’s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD), academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, researchers from FRACTAL, and other stakeholders. The ER found it was important to take time to understand the context, cultures and mandates of a group, and be adaptable with initiatives, programmes and approaches so that products could be tailored better and embedded effectively in the group’s processes and activities.


The development and application of the concept of receptivity among stakeholders offers an alternative framing to that of seeking ‘entry points’ for climate information. Receptivity entails critically reflecting on one’s own knowledge and that offered by others (i.e. recognizing assumptions and framings). By creating an environment that fosters receptivity (e.g. the learning labs), FRACTAL enhanced opportunities to make less partial, narrow judgements and showed how the practices and actions of researchers and decision makers can be based on a broader view of the ‘system’ (e.g. the city-region). 

Receptivity to other frames of reference, knowledge and knowledge-making practices is in no way passive. It is a way of engaging with others that is open, considered and reflexive.


Addressing the cross-cutting problems associated with climate variability and change in southern African cities requires significant action, investment and collaboration to connect often ‘siloed’ departments and organisations. Building strong relationships and networks of stakeholders within and across cities is essential for a coordinated approach. It inspires and supports stakeholders in the cities. 

Relationships and networks are strengthened by social learning, group reflections, knowledge sharing and co-production. This story highlights the role of social learning activities (e.g. city exchanges, collaborative research) in developing the relationships and networks needed to deal with the impacts of climate change in FRACTAL city-regions.


FRACTAL sought to deepen the engagement between scientific and city-regional decision makers. The project adopted an embedded researcher (ER) approach. ERs were recruited to liaise between scientists and decision-makers, dividing their time between universities and city government. Before the project, other engagements had tended to have a narrow focus and short-term consulting capacity. 

In order to make climate science relevant and useable an understanding of the application context is required. Conversely, to ensure the robustness of climate information an understanding of climate science is needed. Making these connections is difficult because scientists and decision makers operate in different networks with different priorities, coding schemes and temporalities for their work. ERs were able to span these boundaries, facilitating engagements and helping to generate and translate the evidence needed for real-world decision-making processes.


FRACTAL has experimented extensively with the use of Climate Risk Narratives (CRNs). These are stories told from the future of a changed climate and associated impacts. The CRNs were initially developed by climate scientists as plausible stories about the future climate of a city based on evidence from regional climate projections and observations. This introduced climate risk information into FRACTAL’s transdisciplinary activities. CRNs then proved useful during the project’s iterative co-production processes as a way to identify climate knowledge that is relevant to a specific city’s climate risks, their potential impacts and suggested societal responses. 

They are instrumental in supporting and generating engagements and research activities, outputs and outcomes. They are useful tools to integrate climate knowledge into resilience decision-making, to promote dialogue and to co-produce knowledge and improve the understanding of relevant city-region climate hazards and impacts.