Potential impacts of afforestation on climate change and extreme events in Nigeria
Climate System Analysis Group, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Climate Change Unit, Institute Ecology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Afforestation is usually thought as a good approach to mitigate impacts of warming over a region. This study presents an argument that afforestation may have bigger impacts than originally thought by previous studies. The study investigates the impacts of afforestation on future climate and extreme events in Nigeria, using a regional climate model (RegCM3), forced with global climate model simulations. The impacts of seven afforestation options on the near future (2031-2050, under A1B scenario) climate and the extreme events are investigated. RegCM3 replicates essential features in the present-day (1981-2000) climate and the associated extreme events, and adequately simulates the seasonal variations over the ecological zones in the country. However, the model simulates the seasonal climate better over the northern ecological zones than over the southern ecological zones. The simulated spatial distribution of the extreme events agrees well with the observation, though the magnitude of the simulated events is smaller than the observed. The study shows that afforestation in Nigeria could have both positive and negative future impacts on the climate change and extreme events in the country. While afforestation reduces the projected global warming and enhances rainfall over the afforested area (and over coastal zones), it enhances the warming and reduces the rainfall over the north-eastern part of the country. In addition, the afforestation induces more frequent occurrence of extreme rainfall events (flooding) over the coastal region and more frequent occurrence of heat waves and droughts over the semi-arid region. The positive and negative impacts of the afforestation are not limited to Nigeria; they extend to the neighboring countries. While afforestation lowers the warming and enhances rainfall over Benin Republic, it increases the warming and lowers the rainfall over Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The result of the study has important implication for the ongoing climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in Nigeria. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
afforestation; climate change; climate modeling; extreme event; global warming; monsoon; rainfall; regional climate; seasonal variation; spatial distribution; Nigeria
NRF, National Research Foundation