Uncovering the structure, dynamics and impacts of humid HEATwaves across AFRIca under present and future climate: AFRIHEAT
Programme(s): HORIZON.1.2 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)
Topic(s): HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01-01 - MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships 2022
Call for proposal: HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01
Funding Scheme: MSCA-PF - MSCA-PF
Grant agreement ID: 101106066
Heatwaves, the occurrence of extremely high temperature over a prolonged period, have been identified to cause death, reduce educational performance, weaken worker productivity, increase the risk of wildfire, and affect crop productivity. The occurrence of heatwaves has been increasing both in frequency, intensity and duration in the recent past climate and a robust increase in heatwave frequency, intensity and duration is projected in future climate scenarios. When accompanied by moist air, heatwaves can be even more lethal. During such humid heatwave (HHW) events, the physiological mechanism that allows the human body to cool down through transpiration is impaired. Previous regional research on heat stress focused mainly on Europe, South Asia, and the Persian Gulf, even though global studies also identify sub-Saharan Africa as a hotspot for heatwave extremes. Consequently, very little is known about humid heatwave occurrence and impacts in Africa due to the lack of dense meteorological networks and a consistent reporting framework. This project aims to uncover the structure, dynamics and impacts of HHW across Africa under present and future climate, and to translate this knowledge into actionable information for disaster management agencies. To achieve this objective, I will join the BCLIMATE research group under the Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering at the VUB. The host supervisor and the BCLIMATE research team have a world-leading reputation in climate extremes. Building on the tools of European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, the research outcomes will contribute to the forecasting of deadly heat stress across Africa and develop an early warning system to reduce HHW vulnerability. During my secondment at the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in Brussels, I will develop an Early Warning System (EWS) to reduce on-the-ground HHW vulnerability.