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Hydroclimate Extremes in Africa: Variability, Observations and Modeled Projections



Studies of climate change from both natural science and social science disciplines are increasingly turning their focus to the issue of extreme events. Extreme heat waves, storms, droughts, and coastal inundations pose a disproportionate risk to human life, livelihood, and capital across the world. In the Global South, including Africa, much of the adverse impacts come from hydroclimate extremes as people with limited means are often highly vulnerable to climate shocks. The focus of this review paper will be on hydroclimate extremes in Africa. This paper will consider observations and modeling studies of heat extremes, drought, and flooding from heavy rainfall, along with observations and modeling studies of extreme streamflow events in major rivers and extremes of lake level. This being said, observations of trends in extreme events need to be situated in a context of understanding regional hydroclimate variability. There is tremendous diversity and variability in the hydroclimate of Africa and many extreme events, especially of precipitation and streamflow are associated with patterns of natural variability on a range of time scales.