- Temperature and...
Temperature and precipitation extremes under current, 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C global warming above pre-industrial levels over Botswana, and implications for climate change vulnerability
Climate extremes are widely projected to become more severe as the global climate continues to warm due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. These extremes often cause the most severe impacts on society. Therefore, the extent to which the extremes might change at regional level as the global climate warms from current levels to proposed policy targets of 1.5 and 2.0 °C above preindustrial levels need to be understood to allow for better preparedness and informed policy formulation.
This paper analysed projected changes in temperature and precipitation extremes at 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 °C warming over Botswana, a country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Projected changes in temperature extremes are significantly different from each other at the three levels of global warming, across three main climatic zones in the country. Specifically, at 2.0 °C global warming relative to preindustrial, for the ensemble median: (a) country average warm spell duration index increases by 80, 65, 62 days per year across different climatic zones, approximately three (and two) times the change at 1.0 (1.5) °C; (b) cold night (TN10P) and cold day (TX10P) frequencies decrease by 12 and 9 days per year across all regions, respectively, while hot nights (TN90P) and hot days (TX90P) both increase by 8–9 days across all regions.
Projected changes in drought-related indices are also distinct at different warming levels. Specifically: (a) projected mean annual precipitation decreases across the country by 5%–12% at 2 °C, 3%–8% at 1.5 °C and 2%–7% at 1.0 °C; (b) dry spell length (ALTCDD) increases by 15–19 days across the three climatic zones at 2.0 °C, about three (and two) times as much as the increase at 1.0 (1.5) °C. Ensemble mean projections indicate increases in heavy rainfall indices, but the inter-model spread is large, with no consistent direction of change, and so changes are not statistically significant.
The implications of these changes in extreme temperature and precipitation for key socio-economic sectors are explored, and reveal progressively severe impacts, and consequent adaptation challenges for Botswana as the global climate warms from its present temperature of 1.0 °C above preindustrial levels to 1.5 °C, and then 2.0 °C.