The role of anthropogenic aerosol in near-future sub-Saharan precipitation change

Supervisors: Laura Wilcox (University of Reading), Bjørn Samset (CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway), Andrew Turner (University of Reading)

Sub-Saharan Africa is densely populated and highly sensitive to climate change. West Africa has experienced both prolonged periods of drought and increased flooding over the last 50 years, and there is substantial concern that intensifying climate risk will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. Although historical Sahel drought has been attributed to aerosol increases, African precipitation responses to aerosol changes are relatively unexplored. There is almost no existing literature exploring the impact of aerosol changes on East African rains.

Aerosol emissions from remote regions have been implicated in driving historical changes in several African regions, while some of the largest uncertainties in future emissions are also found over Africa. In this project, the role of aerosol in African climate projections, and the uncertainties in these projections, will be explored through three research questions:

  • What is the response of sub-Saharan African climate to potential future anthropogenic aerosol changes?
  • What are the relative roles of local and remote aerosol changes, and different aerosol species, in climate projections for Africa?
  • What are the mechanisms for West African and East African precipitation responses to regional aerosol forcing? Do these mechanisms depend on model climatology, model process representation, or internal variability?

This project has co-funding from the CICERO Center for International Climate Research (Norway) as a CASE studentship. The CASE placement offers an opportunity for the student to work for at least 3 months at CICERO, where they will have the opportunity to explore extensions of their work to climate risk quantification and human health.

If selected, the studentship will start in October 2022 and receive full funding (stipend and fees). Applications are open to UK and international students. The studentship will be part of the SCENARIO Doctoral Training Partnership. Application deadline: 21st January 2022.

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Application and details:

Please contact Laura Wilcox ( if you have any questions