Energy Transitions and Environmental Change in East and Southern Africa's Coupled Human, Terrestrial, and Atmospheric Systems

The East and Southern Africa region is experiencing unprecedented environmental change (citations), with untold consequences for human well-being and sustainability. Environmental change is catalyzed by dynamics in terrestrial and atmospheric systems, which in turn affect regional climate. Impacts are both first and second order. Land cover and land use change (LCLUC) directly affect livelihood strategies available to households, and changes in air quality affect human health and well-being. Together, LCLUC and changes in air quality affect weather patterns leading to regional climate change. This study leverages dynamism in East and Southern Africa’s coupled human, terrestrial,E77 and atmospheric systems and its implications for environmental change, including predicting future impacts on regional climate, land use, and air quality. The project highlights energy transitions in the region as the researchers hypothesize that biomass use and the associated dynamics of coupled human, terrestrial, and atmospheric systems play a major role in environmental change in the region. The study has three main scientific challenges. First, to understand at a relatively fine scale the drivers of change in land use and air quality. Second, to use high-quality field data from Malawi to calibrate, validate, and scale regional land use and air quality models to understand past, present and future scenarios of environmental change in the region. Third, to evaluate the potential for a novel scalable household energy intervention to mitigate the predicted impacts of environmental change.

Principal Investigator: Pamela Jagger

Funding Source: National Science Foundation

Grant Number: ICER-1617359

Funding Period: 10/1/2016 - 9/30/2020

Primary Research Area: Population Health

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