Projecting Future Land Use Changes in West Africa Driven by Climate and Socioeconomic Factors: Uncertainties and Implications for Adaptation

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 11:20
3003 (Moscone West)
Guiling Wang, University of Connecticut, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Groton, CT, United States, Kazi F Ahmed, University of Connecticut, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Storrs, CT, United States and Liangzhi You, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, United States
Land use changes constitute an important regional climate change forcing in West Africa, a region of strong land-atmosphere coupling. At the same time, climate change can be an important driver for land use, although its importance relative to the impact of socio-economic factors may vary significant from region to region. This study compares the contributions of climate change and socioeconomic development to potential future changes of agricultural land use in West Africa and examines various sources of uncertainty using a land use projection model (LandPro) that accounts for the impact of socioeconomic drivers on the demand side and the impact of climate-induced crop yield changes on the supply side. Future crop yield changes were simulated by a process-based crop model driven with future climate projections from a regional climate model, and future changes of food demand is projected using a model for policy analysis of agricultural commodities and trade. The impact of human decision-making on land use was explicitly considered through multiple “what-if” scenarios to examine the range of uncertainties in projecting future land use. Without agricultural intensification, the climate-induced decrease of crop yield together with increase of food demand are found to cause a significant increase in agricultural land use at the expense of forest and grassland by the mid-century, and the resulting land use land cover changes are found to feed back to the regional climate in a way that exacerbates the negative impact of climate on crop yield. Analysis of results from multiple decision-making scenarios suggests that human adaptation characterized by science-informed decision making to minimize land use could be very effective in many parts of the region.