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Journal Article

Climate Change in Afghanistan Deduced from Reanalysis and Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) - South Asia Simulations


Aich,  Valentin
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Akhundzadah,  N. A.
External Organizations;

Knuerr,  A.
External Organizations;

Khoshbeen,  A. J.
External Organizations;


Hattermann,  Fred Fokko
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Paeth,  H.
External Organizations;

Scanlon,  A.
External Organizations;

Paton,  E. N.
External Organizations;

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Aich, V., Akhundzadah, N. A., Knuerr, A., Khoshbeen, A. J., Hattermann, F. F., Paeth, H., Scanlon, A., Paton, E. N. (2017): Climate Change in Afghanistan Deduced from Reanalysis and Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) - South Asia Simulations. - Climate, 5, 2, 38.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_21688
Past and the projected future climate change in Afghanistan has been analyzed systematically and differentiated with respect to its different climate regions to gain some first quantitative insights into Afghanistan’s vulnerability to ongoing and future climate changes. For this purpose, temperature, precipitation and five additional climate indices for extremes and agriculture assessments (heavy precipitation; spring precipitation; growing season length (GSL), the Heat Wave Magnitude Index (HWMI); and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI)) from the reanalysis data were examined for their consistency to identify changes in the past (data since 1950). For future changes (up to the year 2100), the same parameters were extracted from an ensemble of 12 downscaled regional climate models (RCM) of the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX)-South Asia simulations for low and high emission scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5). In the past, the climatic changes were mainly characterized by a mean temperature increase above global level of 1.8 °C from 1950 to 2010; uncertainty with regard to reanalyzed rainfall data limited a thorough analysis of past changes. Climate models projected the temperature trend to accelerate in the future, depending strongly on the global carbon emissions (2006–2050 Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5/8.5: 1.7/2.3 °C; 2006–2099: 2.7/6.4 °C, respectively). Despite the high uncertainty with regard to precipitation projections, it became apparent that the increasing evapotranspiration is likely to exacerbate Afghanistan’s already existing water stress, including a very strong increase of frequency and magnitude of heat waves. Overall, the results show that in addition to the already extensive deficiency in adaptation to current climate conditions, the situation will be aggravated in the future, particularly in regard to water management and agriculture. Thus, the results of this study underline the importance of adequate adaptation to climate change in Afghanistan. This is even truer taking into account that GSL is projected to increase substantially by around 20 days on average until 2050, which might open the opportunity for extended agricultural husbandry or even additional harvests when water resources are properly managed.