Project

SEACRIFOG- Supporting EU-African Cooperation on Reserach Infrastructures for Food Security & Greenhouse Gas Observation

Goal: The goal of the SEACRIFOG ( seacrifog.eu ) project is to promote the EU-Africa cooperation dialogue at different levels (policy, science, society) on the following themes: land use change, climate-smart agriculture, carbon cycle and greenhouse gases observations, in order to support mitigation and adaptation to climate change. SEACRIFOG overall aim is to build an integrative network for long-term and sustainable cooperation among African and European environmental research infrastructures. Among the project’s outcomes will be the production of an assessment of the situation in Africa on the above topics and as well as a road map on the way forward.

To systematically capture information on relevant variables, observation infrastructures, data products and measurement protocols the SEACRIFOG collaborative inventory tool was developed. https://seacrifog-tool.sasscal.org/

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730995.

Date: 1 March 2017 - 28 February 2022

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Project log

Matthew Saunders
added a research item
Global population projections foresee the biggest increase to occur in Africa with most of the available uncultivated land to ensure food security remaining on the continent. Simultaneously, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rise due to ongoing land use change, industrialisation, and transport amongst other reasons with Africa becoming a major emitter of greenhouse gases globally. However, distinct knowledge on greenhouse gas emissions sources and sinks as well as their variability remains largely unknown caused by its vast size and diversity and an according lack of observations across the continent. Thus, an environmental research infrastructure—as being setup in other regions—is more needed than ever. Here, we present the results of a design study that developed a blueprint for establishing such an environmental research infrastructure in Africa. The blueprint comprises an inventory of already existing observations, the spatial disaggregation of locations that will enable to reduce the uncertainty in climate forcing’s in Africa and globally as well as an overall estimated cost for such an endeavour of about 550 M€ over the next 30 years. We further highlight the importance of the development of an e-infrastructure, the necessity for capacity development and the inclusion of all stakeholders to ensure African ownership.
Dong Gill Kim
added a research item
Greenhouse gas (GHG) research has traditionally required data collection and analysis using advanced and often expensive instruments, complex and proprietary software, and skilled technicians. Partly as a result, relatively little GHG research has been conducted in resource-constrained developing countries and a critical data gap exists in these regions. At the same time, these are the same countries and regions in which climate-change impacts will likely be strongest, and in which major science uncertainties are centered, given the importance of dryland and tropical systems to the global carbon cycle and 20 climate. Increasingly, scientific communities have adopted appropriate technology and approach (AT&A) for GHG research, including low-cost and low-technology instruments, open source software and data, and participatory and networking-based research approaches. Adopting AT&A can mean acquiring data with fewer technical constraints and lower economic burden, and is thus a strategy for enhancing GHG research in developing countries. However, AT&A can be characterized by higher uncertainties; these can often be mitigated by carefully designing experimental setup , providing clear protocols for data 25 collection, and monitoring and validating the quality of obtained data. For implementing this approach in GHG research of developing countries, first, it is necessary to recognize the scientific and moral importance of AT&A. At the same time, new AT&A techniques should be identified and further developed. Finally, these processes should be promoted through training local staff and encouraged for wide use and further innovation in developing countries.
Mylene Ndisi
added 3 research items
Alecia Nickless
added a research item
An optimal network design was carried out to prioritise the installation or refurbishment of greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring stations around Africa. The network was optimised to reduce the uncertainty in emissions across three of the most important GHGs: CO2, CH4, and N2O. Optimal networks were derived using incremental optimisation of the percentage uncertainty reduction achieved by a Gaussian Bayesian atmospheric inversion. The solution for CO2 was driven by seasonality in net primary productivity. The solution for N2O was driven by activity in a small number of soil flux hotspots. The optimal solution for CH4 was consistent over different seasons. All solutions for CO2 and N2O placed sites in central Africa at places such as Kisangani, Kinshasa and Bunia (Democratic Republic of Congo), Dundo and Lubango (Angola), Zoétélé (Cameroon), Am Timan (Chad), and En Nahud (Sudan). Many of these sites appeared in the CH4 solutions, but with a few sites in southern Africa as well, such as Amersfoort (South Africa). The multi-species optimal network design solutions tended to have sites more evenly spread-out, but concentrated the placement of new tall-tower stations in Africa between 10ºN and 25ºS. The uncertainty reduction achieved by the multi-species network of twelve stations reached 47.8% for CO2, 34.3% for CH4, and 32.5% for N2O. The gains in uncertainty reduction diminished as stations were added to the solution, with an expected maximum of less than 60%. A reduction in the absolute uncertainty in African GHG emissions requires these additional measurement stations, as well as additional constraint from an integrated GHG observatory and a reduction in uncertainty in the prior biogenic fluxes in tropical Africa.
Ana López-Ballesteros
added 3 research items
A crucial aspect of coordinated climate action is the ability to measure, attribute, report and verify the drivers of climate change not only globally, but down to national level. This requires the enhancement of current observation infrastructures around the world, particularly in less-studied regions such as the African continent. Methodological protocols play an essential role in assuring interoperability among existing and new monitoring stations and networks. However, although the availability and accessibility of the body of existing methodological knowledge is crucial to fill existing observational gaps in a harmonised and resource-efficient way, there are very few efforts documented to systematically compile and assess it. This work aims to identify environmental observation methodologies which, on one hand, are applicable in Africa and, on the other hand, compatible with ongoing international and European monitoring initiatives. It draws from a systematic inventory of 140 environmental methodological protocols related to the measurement and estimation of the main climate forcing components within the atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial domains. In order to identify existing methodologies readily applicable for various observational purposes in under-studied regions, the feasibility of these protocols was determined based on a basic assessment of the financial and human resources needed for their implementation. Finally, a harmonised approach is proposed to enhance observational capacity in Africa with the differentiation of at least two types of sites. ‘Basic’ sites, where highly feasible environmental measurements can be performed to improve spatial coverage of main biomes, anthromes, and land use types, and advanced ‘key sites’, where a large set of variables measured at a high temporal resolution would enable a better understanding of driving processes in representative systems and managements across the continent, albeit requiring the application of less readily feasible methodologies.
In the case of the African continent, the estimates of most climate forcing components are associated with large uncertainties, above all the greenhouse gas budget. The EU-funded SEACRIFOG project is designing an observation network which aims at reducing these uncertainties. In this practice paper, we present the various steps towards the design of this network and discuss the data-related implications. This includes the formulation of appropriate observational requirements for each variable considered essential to quantify Africa-wide climate forcing as well as an assessment of corresponding available observational infrastructures and data in order to determine data gaps, needs and priorities. The results are intended to inform the design of an interoperable African data infrastructure for environmental observations.
Johannes Beck
added a research item
In line with the SEACRIFOG WP4 objective of improving technical harmonisation and data quality in environmental monitoring and experimentation, this report presents the requirements for observations of the essential variables identified by SEACRIFOG and derived data products. Existing observation infrastructures and data products are then assessed against these requirements in order to identify corresponding gaps and needs.
Johannes Beck
added a research item
In line with the SEACRIFOG WP4 objective of improving technical harmonisation and data quality in environmental monitoring and experimentation, this report presents ‘a minimal dataset of mandatory climatic parameters and ecological and land-use assessment criteria, together with an ‘ideal’ set of criteria’. The primary aim is to identify the essential variables to be observed systematically in order to sufficiently capture and quantify anthropogenic climate forcing as well as its interlinkages with agricultural production and food security in Africa and the surrounding oceans.
Veronika Jorch
added a research item
There is currently a lack of representative, systematic and harmonised greenhouse gas (GHG) observations covering the variety of natural and human-altered biomes that occur in Africa. This impedes the long-term assessment of the drivers of climate change, in addition to their impacts and feedback loops at the continental scale, but also limits our understanding of the contribution of the African continent to the global carbon (C) cycle. Given the current and projected transformation of socio-economic conditions in Africa (i.e. the increasing trend of urbanisation and population growth) and the adverse impacts of climate change, the development of a GHG research infrastructure (RI) is needed to support the design of suitable mitigation and adaptation strategies required to assure food, fuel, nutrition and economic security for the African population. This paper presents the initial results of the EU-African SEACRIFOG project, which aims to design a GHG observation RI for Africa. The first stages of this project included the identification and engagement of key stakeholders, the definition of the conceptual monitoring framework and an assessment of existing infrastructural capacity. Feedback from stakeholder sectors was obtained through three Stakeholder Consultation Workshops held in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. Main concerns identified were data quality and accessibility, the need for capacity building and networking among the scientific community, and adaptation to climate change, which was confirmed to be a priority for Africa. This feedback in addition to input from experts in the atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic thematic areas, facilitated the selection of a set of 'essential variables' that need to be measured in the future environmental RI. An inventory of 47 existing and planned networks across the continent allowed for an assessment of the current RIs needs and gaps in Africa. Overall, the development of a harmonised and standardised pan-African RI will serve to address the continent's primary societal and scientific challenges through a potential cross-domain synergy among existing and planned networks at regional, continental and global scales.
Johannes Beck
added a research item
Presentation of preliminary findings of SASSCAL's ongoing work in line with the SEACRIFOG project. This project aims at developing a roadmap towards a tailored network of research infrastructures for the systematic long-term observation of climate change and related dynamics on the African continent. The preliminary findings include an indicative set of ‘essential variables’ to be considered in line with SEACRIFOG, the inventory of existing observation infrastructures on the African continent, the outcomes of corresponding spatial analyses as well as a discussion of corresponding data availability, needs and gaps.
Adeyemi Chabi
added 2 research items
Background The estimation of forest biomass changes due to land-use change is of significant importance for estimates of the global carbon budget. The accuracy of biomass density maps depends on the availability of reliable allometric models used in combination with data derived from satellites images and forest inventory data. To reduce the uncertainty in estimates of carbon emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation, better information on allometric equations and the spatial distribution of aboveground biomass stocks in each land use/land cover (LULC) class is needed for the different ecological zones. Such information has been sparse for the West African Sudan Savannah zone. This paper provides new data and results for this important zone. The analysis combines satellite images and locally derived allometric models based on non-destructive measurements to estimate aboveground biomass stocks at the watershed level in the Sudan Savannah zone in Benin. ResultsWe compared three types of empirically fitted allometric models of varying model complexity with respect to the number of input parameters that are easy to measure at the ground: model type I based only on the diameter at breast height (DBH), type II which used DBH and tree height and model type III which used DBH, tree height and wood density as predictors. While for most LULC classes model III outperformed the other models even the simple model I showed a good performance. The estimated mean dry biomass density values and attached standard error for the different LULC class were 3.28 ± 0.31 (for cropland and fallow), 3.62 ± 0.36 (for Savanna grassland), 4.86 ± 1.03 (for Settlements), 14.05 ± 0.72 (for Shrub savanna), 45.29 ± 2.51 (for Savanna Woodland), 46.06 ± 14.40 (for Agroforestry), 94.58 ± 4.98 (for riparian forest and woodland), 162 ± 64.88 (for Tectona grandis plantations), 179.62 ± 57.61 (for Azadirachta indica plantations), 25.17 ± 7.46 (for Gmelina arborea plantations), to 204.92 ± 57.69 (for Eucalyptus grandis plantations) Mg ha−1. The higher uncertainty of agroforestry system and plantations is due to the variance in age which affects biomass stocks. Conclusion The results from this study help to close the existing knowledge gap with respect to biomass allometric models at the watershed level and the estimation of aboveground biomass stocks in each LULC in the Sudan Savannah in West Africa. The use of model type I, which relies only on the easy to measure DBH, seems justified since it performed almost as good as the more complex model types II and III. The work provided useful data on wood density of the main species of the Sudan Savannah zone, the related local derived biomass expansion factor and the biomass density in each LULC class that would be an indispensable information tool for carbon accounting programme related to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and forests conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) initiatives.
Veronika Jorch
added a research item
Climate change is threatening ecosystems and societies in Africa. At the same time, population growth causing land-use change, increased energy demand and the development of industry and transport infrastructure contributes to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is estimated that the majority of GHG emissions in Africa at present occur due to land-use change, partly caused by the extension of agricultural production and deforestation. Scientific advice on GHG emissions with regard to agricultural production is important for Africa to improve the national and international environmental reporting and policies, considering the food security demands. For scientific analysis and advice, sufficient qualitative and quantitative data about GHG emissions, sources and sinks are essential. The primary objective of the project is to formulate a roadmap towards fully interoperable and accessible research infrastructures in agricultural and GHG observation research in the EU and Africa that match the needs of scientists, policy makers and end users such as farmers. Towards long-term greenhouse gas observations in Africa-a design study SEACRIFOG in a nutshell Team: Our interdisciplinary African-European working team comprises experts in atmospheric, terrestrial (agricultural) and ocean observation. Research: We identify the needs for science-based concepts to improve food security and the GHG budget. We focus on the details necessary to harmonise and improve GHG data and establish routines of data sharing across EU and African countries. Capacity-building: We work on a linkage between research and regional capacity-building. Trainings and workshops on data processing and data collection are central to our implementation. Sustainability: Our aim is to create a long-lasting impact by giving optimal advice, for the establishment of a pan-African greenhouse gas observation system, including a funding concept.
Johannes Beck
added a research item
Climate and environmental change observation in Africa • Closing the Earth's energy balance and the carbon and water cycles through observations remain outstanding scientific issues that require high quality records of key variables [1] • In the case of the African continent, there are still large observational gaps, resulting in major uncertainties for most of the key variables related to climate change, above all the greenhouse gas (GHG) balance [2] • At the same time, Africa is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, having the highest population growth rate of all continents, which is coupled with factors like increasing energy demand, exploitation of natural resources and associated land-use related emissions [2]
Veronika Jorch
added a research item
Ecosystems and societies on the African continent are threatened by the consequences of climate change. Similarly, the continuing trend of population growth jointly occurring with rapid land-use change, increased energy demand and the development of industry and transport infrastructure contribute to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and subsequently climate change. It is estimated that the majority of GHG emissions in Africa at present occur due to land-use change. Land-use change is partly a consequence of the extension of agricultural production and deforestation in order to cope with increasing land, food and energy demands. Scientific advice on GHG emissions with regard to agricultural production techniques is important for African countries to improve LULUCF and GHG inventories, the reporting of their National Determined Contributions (NDCs), and their decision-making processes for public and private climate and land use policies. The availability of sufficient qualitative and quantitative data about GHG emissions and their respective sources and sinks is essential for subsequent scientific analysis and the formulation of appropriate advice. Currently, a comprehensive GHG observation system is lacking for the whole African continent. To fill that gap, the H2020 funded project SEACRIFOG is undertaking a design study for a pan-African observation system on GHGs and aerosols, by building on existing approaches and extending them to an integrative concept. The primary objective of the project is to formulate a roadmap towards fully interoperable and accessible research infrastructures in agricultural and GHG observation research in the EU and Africa that match the needs of scientists, policy makers and end users such as farmers. A preliminary assessment on currently operating stations reveals an uneven distribution of monitoring platforms, since most of them are located in South and West Africa. Similarly, not all African biomes are equally represented. Meteorological stations measuring variables such as ground temperature and precipitation are the most widespread observational systems across the continent, while explicit GHG measurements are limited short-term campaign studies often funded by scientific projects or to African countries with more sufficient available economic resources (i.e. South Africa). As part of the design of a pan-African research infrastructure, a set of essential variables is being defined in order to assure the measurement of key processes describing the effects of biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic factors on GHG emissions. Since this project ultimately aims at contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in Africa, attention is given to the land use change and management techniques applied in natural landscapes and well as anthropogenically disturbed ecosystems such as agricultural and mixed-livestock systems.
Veronika Jorch
added a project goal
The goal of the SEACRIFOG ( seacrifog.eu ) project is to promote the EU-Africa cooperation dialogue at different levels (policy, science, society) on the following themes: land use change, climate-smart agriculture, carbon cycle and greenhouse gases observations, in order to support mitigation and adaptation to climate change. SEACRIFOG overall aim is to build an integrative network for long-term and sustainable cooperation among African and European environmental research infrastructures. Among the project’s outcomes will be the production of an assessment of the situation in Africa on the above topics and as well as a road map on the way forward.
To systematically capture information on relevant variables, observation infrastructures, data products and measurement protocols the SEACRIFOG collaborative inventory tool was developed. https://seacrifog-tool.sasscal.org/
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730995.