Projections of human exposure to deadly heat in African cities under multiple socioeconomic and climate scenarios

Authors: Guillaume Rohat*, University of Geneva, Switzerland; University of Twente, The Netherlands; NCAR, CO., Johannes Flacke, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, The Netherlands, Alessandro Dosio, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy, Hy Dao, University of Geneva, Switzerland, Martin van Maarseveen, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Topics: Global Change, Physical Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Heat; Climate change; Exposure; Scenario; Shared Socioeconomic Pathways; Cities; Africa
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Human exposure to deadly heat is increasing worldwide due to climatic and demographic changes. Being located in hot and humid regions and showing high rates of urban population growth, African cities appear particularly at risk. We combined urban population projections under a range of socioeconomic scenarios (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways) with deadly heat projections under a range of climate scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways) to explore future human exposure to deadly heat across 173 large African cities. We demonstrated that exposure in African urban areas will increase by a multiple of 20-52, reaching 86-217 billion person-days per year by the end of the century, depending on the scenario. Large cities located in Western and Central Africa appear to be the most exposed, whereas Southern African cities will remain relatively unscathed. We found future exposure to be predominantly driven by changes in population alone or by concurrent changes in population and climate, with the influence of changes in climatic conditions alone being minimal. We also demonstrated that shifting from a high to a low urban population growth pathways leads to a slightly greater reduction in exposure than shifting from a high to a low emission pathway. This highlights the critical role that socioeconomic development plays in shaping future heat-related challenges in African cities.

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