Ulrike Rippke, Julian Ramirez-Villegas, Andy Jarvis, Sonja J. Vermeulen, Louis Parker, Flora Mer, Bernd Diekkrüger, Andrew J. Challinor, Mark Howden

Nature Climate Change

Published date March 7, 2016

Timescales of transformational climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan African agriculture

  • Develops a temporal uncertainty framework using the CMIP5 ensemble to assess when and where cultivation of key crops in sub-Saharan Africa becomes unviable
  • Reports potential transformational changes for all major crops during the twenty-first century, as climates shift and areas become unsuitable
  • Finds that for most crops, transformation is limited to small pockets (<15% of area)
  • Finds that transformation is more widespread only for beans, maize and banana (~30% area for maize and banana, 60% for beans)
  • Envisages three overlapping adaptation phases to enable projected transformational changes: an incremental adaptation phase focused on improvements to crops and management, a preparatory phase that establishes appropriate policies and enabling environments, and a transformational adaptation phase in which farmers substitute crops, explore alternative livelihoods strategies, or relocate
  • States monitoring capacities to track farming systems as well as climate are needed to best align policies with production triggers for no-regret actions