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Climate change impacts on subsistence agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa – an exploration using data assimilation with the JULES land surface model (CENTA2-SGGE21-KADU)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Climate change is expected to impact African water and food security, sustainable development, and economic sustainability (ISS, 2010). Already, climate change is affecting people, their livelihoods and cultures on the African continent (IPCC, 2001). Subsistence agriculture, which is frequently rain fed in large parts of Africa, will be potentially very severely impacted by climate change. Alexandratos et al. (2012) predict that anticipated climate variability in sub-Sahara Africa would adversely affect agriculture, e.g. by reducing cereal crop yields between 20%-30% by the end of 2050. This would pose significant food security, employment and economic challenge to poorer nations in sub-Sahara Africa (UNDP, 2007). Furthermore, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) explicitly stated in its fourth assessment report that sub-Sahara Africa’s vulnerability is as a results of its high dependence on agriculture. According to the international labour organization (ILO, 2011), over 60% of all employment in sub- Saharan Africa depend on agriculture, which has become extremely vulnerable to climate change. Furthermore sub-Sahara Africa’s vulnerability has been exacerbated by extreme poverty and inequality (Brooks, 2003 and Boko et al., 2007).

There is therefore an urgent need to explore climate change impacts in more detail to facilitate the development of effective adaptations. Past work in the research group has considered precipitation patterns as well as land cover change in West Africa based on remotely sensed data (Figure 1). We now want to extend the work to modelling approaches. Recent improvements in remote sensing data sets have resulted in a range of different data at 1km resolution (e.g. soil, vegetation, surface temperature). This offers the opportunity to simulate land surface processes at a scale that becomes relevant for agriculture.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Alexandratos, N. and J. Bruinsma. 2012. World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision. ESA Working paper No. 12-03. Rome, FAO.

Boko, M et al., 2007. Chapter 9: Africa Fourth Assessment Report Of IPCC: 441.

Brooks, N., 2003. "Vulnerability, Risk And Adaptation: A Conceptual Framework." Tyndall Centre

YZ Ibrahim, H Balzter, J Kaduk, CJ Tucker, 2015. Land degradation assessment using residual trend analysis of GIMMS NDVI3g, soil moisture and rainfall in Sub-Saharan west Africa from 1982 to 2012. Remote Sensing 7 (5), 5471-5494

IPCC, 2001. Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

International labour organization, 2011. Global employment trends and related reports

UNDP, 2007 Ghana Human Development Report: Towards A More Inclusive Society. Accra Office.

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