Back to the Future with the Climate Analogue Tool
By Adeyemi Ademiluyi
The CCAFS (Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security) Climate Analogue Tools allows the user to identify and investigate climate change, climate variability and possible adaptations to these by identifying areas around the world that currently have the projected climatic conditions of the user’s location of interest. This tool comes in 2 forms; the first is an online, user-friendly version of the tool, which allows users to investigate 1 of the possible 24 climate models individually (or an ensemble which uses the average of all 24 climate models).
The user puts in the location of interest and the online tool will use the average of the projected monthly temperature and rainfall for the period 2020 to 2049 and identify sites across the globe that currently have similar climatic conditions. The second form the tool is available in the R programming platform that the tool was developed in and is available online as free, open source software. This version allows far more control to the user, both letting the user look at the 24 climate models simultaneously as well as adding data to find analogue sites based on additional factors such as distance to markets, irrigation availability and soil type. The researchers realize that they cannot predict all of the areas of interest held by users around the world so have made it possible for them to input their own data.
Edward Jones and David Arango are travelling first to Kigali, Rwanda and then to Nairobi, Kenya on a mission of capacity building. In each country they are holding a four-day workshop training researchers and extension workers to use the advanced form of the tool. This is the first time that the R package version of the tool, which takes into account a sites soil properties (researcher Jones has completed an additional module using soil properties from Sub-Saharan Africa and added it as a variable along with temperature and precipitation) is being taught.
One of the applications of the tool that they will be introducing to both groups is the Farms of the Future (FOTF) program also developed by CCAFS. By using the tool to find possible future scenarios, farmers participating in the FOTF program are taken to some of the analogue locations in order to promote farmer-to-farmer information sharing. It is a way to give practical and personal examples of the effect of climate change on farming communities and their practices.
Farms of the Future was piloted in Nepal 2012 as part of the Systemic Integrated Adaptation Program.
“When a person is told that the temperature will go up by 2 degrees you don’t know what that means for you. However if you see another area elsewhere that is already 2 degrees hotter you can see the practical implications of the change and some possible adaptations to it” said Edward Jones “It gives people answers and more insights into an uncertain climate future”
David Arango expressed that he was happy that these workshops were going to be longer than the previous 1 or 2 day workshops “It allows more time for us to explain not only the tool but the uncertainties of the world that the tool works within.”
Basically the Climate Analogue Tool is a methodology to find similarity across time and space, and has adaptation applications that can be used by stakeholders in multiple sectors, from individual subsistence farmers to influencing policy makers.