South Africa: Using detailed regional climate models and GIS, researchers with the Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) programme developed an online mapping tool that analyses how climate and other forces interact to threaten the security of African communities. The map will help vulnerable populations in adapting to climate change and political instability.
The vulnerability mapping programme within CCAPS is led by Joshua Busby, assistant professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. The CCAPS climate security vulnerability model identifies four main sources of vulnerability, including climate-related hazard exposure, population density, household community resilience, and governance and political violence.
Busby and his team combined the four sources of vulnerability and gave them each equal weight, adding them together to form a composite map. Their scores were then divided into a ranking of five equal parts, or quintiles, going from the 20 percent of regions with the lowest vulnerability to the 20 percent with the highest.
The data reflects past and present vulnerability, but to understand which places in Africa would be most vulnerable to future climate change, Busby and his team relied on the regional climate model simulations designed by Edward Vizy and Kerry Cook, both members of the CCAPS team from the Jackson School of Geosciences.
Data from these vulnerability maps was then fed into an online mapping tool developed by the CCAPS programme to integrate its various lines of climate, conflict and aid research. CCAPS”s current mapping tool is based on a prototype developed by the team to assess conflict patterns in Africa with the help of researchers at the TACC/ACES Visualization Laboratory (Vislab), according to Ashley Moran, programme manager of CCAPS.
“The mapping tool is a key part of our effort to produce new research that could support policy making and the work of practitioners and governments in Africa,” Moran said. “We want to communicate this research in ways that are of maximum use to policymakers and researchers.”
The initial prototype of the mapping tool used the ArcGIS platform to project data onto maps. Working with its partner Development Gateway, CCAPS expanded the system to incorporate conflict, vulnerability, governance and aid research data.
Some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change include Somalia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Sudan and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Knowing this allows local policymakers to develop security strategies for the future, including early warning systems against floods, investments in drought-resistant agriculture, and alternative livelihoods that might facilitate resource sharing and help prevent future conflicts. The next iteration of the online mapping tool to be released later this year will also incorporate the future projections of climate exposure from the models developed by Vizy and Cook.