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2 [Human-Land-Climate Loop]

East Africa Climate, People, Livestock, & Savanna Ecosystems

Jesse Lupinski

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of 2 [Human-Land-Climate Loop]

Human-Land-Climate Loop
How does climate change affect the environment?
to Climate
Change effects

Adaptations involve strategies of individuals, communities, and governments.
Livelihood Systems
Climate Change
Temperature Projections
Impacts of Climate Change in East Africa
A plant's transpiration rates go up as the temperature goes up, especially during the growing season, when the air is warmer due to stronger sunlight and warmer air masses. Higher temperatures cause the plant cells which control the openings (stoma), where water is released to the atmosphere, to open, whereas colder temperatures cause the openings to close.

Temperature rises speed up maturity rates.
Climate change is making environments in East Africa warmer and drier.
When there are changes in climate, the vegetation in the savanna changes.
A biome is a major ecological community of plants and animals with similar life forms and environmental conditions.

Biomes and their boundaries are not static; they are undergoing change

African biomes exhibit a mirror-like character North and South of the equator

Rules of thumb for tropical Africa:
The variety of animal and plant species decreases as you move away from the equator
Biomass declines as you move away from the equator.
When the vegetation changes, how people interact with the natural environment changes.
Temperature is rising
Precipitation is decreasing in some regions and increasing in others
Glaciers are melting, and
There are more droughts and floods.

Climate change affects the natural savanna vegetation, including what species will grow, how well they cover the soil, and what species grow that are good for cattle and other livestock to graze on.

Climate change also affects what crops can be grown in the savanna, when they can be planted, and how much they will produce.
Effect of Climate Change on Biomes
Current Climate
Current climate. Map shows temperatures from a 60 year average during the maize growing season in East Africa.
Temperature Projections
Reading the map

The colors indicate change in temperature. Grey shows change < 1.0 degree C, yellow shows change of 1.0, orange shows change of 2.0, and red shows change greater than 2.0.


Large portions of the map of all models are projected to be affected by an average increase of 1 or 2 degrees. Note that two models, CSIRO and ECHAM, show greater severity overall. Also, different locations are affected to varying degree.


Much of the central & southern zone has become warmer and drier during the past 50 years. The declines have been especially in the past 1-2 decades.

Temperatures have risen approx. 0.2-0.4˚C/decade since 1960, which is inversely related to rainfall trends (warmer temperatures with less rainfall, fewer clouds).

during maize growing season
during maize growing season (avg. Tmax)
Change between 2000 and 2050
Precipitation Projections
Current Precipitation
Precipitation Projections
during maize growing season
during maize growing season (avg. Tmax)
Change between 2000 and 2050
Current climate. Map shows precipitation from a 60 year average during the maize growing season in East Africa.
Reading the map

The colors indicate change in precipitation amount. Decrease in precipitation marked in shades of red-brown, Increase in precipitation denoted by shades of yellow-green, close to no change denoted by white.

Analysis & Trends

Rainfall change depends on region. Rainfall & vegetation has been increasing in some areas of the northern zone, especially in the past two decades.

Much of the central & southern zone has become warmer and drier during the past 50 years. The declines have been especially in the past 1-2 decades.

Drought frequency has been increasing across some southern sections and decreasing across the north.

Recent research suggests that the drying is related to a warming in the Indian Ocean. Given the persistence of sea surface temperatures, a continuation of recent trends is possible during the next decade or longer.
Maize Yield Projections
Current Yield
Current yield of maize Low Nitrogen (5) in Kg/ha. Green represents more successful crops where red is extremely unproductive.
Yield Projections
Reading the map

The colors indicate change in yield. No change is colored in light green. Dark green is a more productive yield. Red indicateds decreased yield.


Although the large unproductive area in northern Kenya appears green, there was no improvement because hardly anything was growing in the first place.

during maize growing season
during maize growing season (avg. Tmax)
Change between 2000 and 2050
Why four maps?

When considering temperature projections, scientists use several models that show the most likely outcomes. Since it is impossible to predict the future with exact accuracy, they present several diagrams of what will likely happen.

What conditions cause crops to fail?
Rainfall Trends
Rainfall has remained steady or declined during the past several decades. The average decreases during the past 50 years are on the order of 5-25%. In Tanzania, rainfall has decreased approx. 3 mm/month or 3% per decade.

The decreases were in unimodal and in bimodal regions for both long and short seasons. Some of the decreases appear to be associated with a gradual compression or shortening of the rainy season (s).

Largest decreases in the region were found in southern Tanzania and central Kenya.

In many areas, the precipitation decreases have been more pronounced during the past few decades.

Long terms trends in western Uganda suggest increasing long season rainfall since 1960, although there have been decreases in that region during the most recent decade.

How else are people being affected?
Higher temperatures also means more evaporation, and less moisture in the soil.
Insufficient rainfall causes plants to die (as in a drought) or become less productive.

A shortened rainy season means that plants get less rain overall and do not reach their potential output.

Overabundant rains wash away nutrients and stunt growth.
Land that is categorized as one type may start to shift to another as conditions change.

The savanna vegetation is composed of trees, bushes, and grasses.
Depending on rainfall and temperature, the species composition will change.
As it gets drier, trees and certain grasses will no longer be able to survive and will be replaced by more drought-resistant bushes and grasses.
The EACLIPSE researchers are taking samples to determine how species composition changes over time in response to climate change.
In the East African savanna three main sources of income are: keeping livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, or camels), farming, or non-farm income (running a business or getting a job). Families need to make choices about how to support their household by choosing among these options.
Raising Livestock
Crop attributes
Considerations when growing crops such as maize and other C4 cereal crops:

Maize is highly sensitive to interruptions in the rains, esp during silking time.
Pests & diseases increase as temperature increases.

How are livelihood systems being affected?
Livestock production is the traditional livelihood system of the savanna. This is because livestock are able to graze on the sparse grasses and bushes of the savanna and convert that biomass into protein for human consumption in the form of meat and milk. Farming was historically less common because the soil in the savanna is fragile and nutrient-deficient.

Cattle are the traditional livestock in the savanna, but as the grasses preferred by cattle become less available, herders switch to goats and sheep because they can eat tougher grasses and bushes.

Recently herders have also begun to keep camels because they are well-adapted to dry climates.
When families have livestock, they have to make decisions about what animals to keep, how many animals to keep, and where to graze them.

Savannah is most suitable to Grazing
What are herders' concerns?
Farming is another livelihood option in the savanna. Maize (corn dried and used for cornmeal) is a common crop. Sorghum and millet are traditional grains that are better adapted to dry climates.

Farming in the savanna is increasing because:
Some farmers are moving into the savanna from other areas.
Some herders are beginning to farm to earn additional income.

When people choose farming as a livelihood, they need to have land, labor, and seeds to successfully farm. They also need to be able to sell what is not for their own use. Farmers have to make choices about what crops to grow, where to plant, and how much of each crop to plant.
Crop raising in the savannah
How are farmers affected by climate change?
Non-Farm Income
Farmers affected by harsh conditions may need to work an additional job to support themselves and their families.

Restaurants and Stores
Tourism (e.g. game parks)
Education (e.g. teachers), and
Transportation (truck driver; taxi driver)

When there are not enough jobs locally, some family members may migrate to other parts of the country or region to look for work.

How are herders affected by climate change?
Herders have to decide how much livestock to keep, which kinds of livestock to keep (cattle, goats, sheep, camels), and where to take them to graze.
What are their concerns?
Farmers have to decide what crops to grow, and how much of each crop to grow. Maize is a staple food crop that is typically grown in the area, sometimes with beans, although sorghum and millet are better adapted to the climate.

Droughts can wipe out an entire crop, leaving them without an income. Lower yields mean less total crops to sell, and the farmer may need to get another job to supplement that income.
As people adopt new livelihood systems in response to
changing temperatures, that will affect land management in the savanna.
Changes in land management can affect the existing vegetation,
including species composition and ground cover. Inadequate ground
cover can contribute to higher local temperatures and lower amounts of
CO2 absorbed by plants, in turn contributing to climate change.
When people's livelihoods are threatened, they have to adapt and change.
Methods include:

Land use changes
Changing farming methods
Changing crops
Preview to Prezi Lesson 3:
Changes in how people use land affects the vegetation that grows on that land.
How do those changes affect people?
What challenges do they face?
Next lesson: What adaptive techniques do they use?
We have just demonstrated how the natural systems are being affected by human activity.
The loop illustrates how these systems are highly dynamic and interactive.
Climate, plant life, animal life, and human activity all are important factors in the health of the ecosystem.
Full transcript