FPS ELVIC - Climate extremes in the Lake Victoria basin

Extreme weather events, like heavy precipitation, heat waves, droughts, and wind storms, have detrimental impacts on East African societies. The Lake Victoria Basin is especially vulnerable since nightly storms on the lake catch fishermen by surprise. The death toll is high. The International Red Cross estimates that each year 3000-5000 fishermen perish on the lake due to nightly storms. In addition, urban dwellers suffer from direct (flash) flood impacts on infrastructure and human settlements as well as from secondary effects such as outbreaks of diseases and disease vectors. Moreover, heavy precipitation events are shown to correlate with high landslide occurrences in mountainous areas embedding the Lake Victoria basin. As the frequency and intensity of climate extremes are projected to globally increase with climate change, so do the risks, with potentially major consequences for livelihoods and policy in the region.

The ELVIC project is an internationally COordinated Regional climate Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX) - Flagship Pilot Study (FPS) initiative, bringing together different research groups with the same goal: unraveling the complex regional climate near Lake Victoria, East Africa. Insights are gained from both observational and model perspectives. At the current stage, present-day simulations are performed with multiple high-resolution, convection-permitting regional climate models, including COSMO-CLM, RegCM, HCLIM-AROME, WRF, and MO-UM. These convection-permitting models are compared against their convection parametrised benchmarks and evaluated against different remote sensing products. This evaluation is the first step of ELVIC to investigate the complex regional climate and its evolution in a warming climate, with a strong focus on extreme events. As such, the project aims at providing improved probabilistic information to the impact community.

Currently, the CLM community contributes to the ELVIC initiative with two evaluation runs for the period 2006-2016, both downscaled from the recent ERA 5 reanalysis. The coarse resolution (~12 km) simulation as well as the convection-permitting (~2.8 km) one are coupled to the lake surface parametrisation scheme and include the two-moment microphysical scheme, strongly improving the cloud representation and precipitation results in the region. Future projections are planned soon, driven with CMIP 6 general circulation models.

For more information about ELVIC, please visit the project website and do not hesitate to contact the contributing partners from the CLM-Community (see below).

Model domain

Lake Victoria basin

Contributing partners from CLM-Community

  • Jonas Van De Walle (KU Leuven)

  • Nicole van Lipzig (KU Leuven)

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