How will 1°C – 4°C global temperature rise affect rainfall in Africa?

A new study by Rachel James and Professor Richard Washington examines the projected changes in temperature and rainfall in Africa with 1 °C, 2 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C of global warming.

Climate change mitigation debates focus on how many degrees of global temperature rise should be avoided. 2 °C has emerged as a benchmark for danger, with severe impacts on water security, food security and human well-being anticipated. However, there is limited research on the implications of this change for Africa. It is also little understand how change will occur as global temperature increases – will it be incremental or will there be sudden and nonlinear shifts?

The study by Rachel James and Professor Richard Washington at Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment addresses these important questions and examines the changes in rainfall in Africa with 1 °C, 2 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C of global warming. Models project risks associated with 2 °C and beyond, with increasing changes in rainfall projected as global temperature increases. A closer look at regional variations shows Southern Africa, the Guinea Coast and the west of the Sahel getting wetter, while East Africa becomes drier. These changes could have severe implications for society.


James, R. and Washington, R. (2012) Changes in African temperature and precipitation associated with degrees of global warming. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0581-7

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