Combining European and African expertise in observations, modelling, and marine ecosystems to improve our understanding and capabilities to predict Tropical Atlantic climate and its impacts.

PREFACE – Enhancing prediction of Tropical Atlantic climate and its impacts – is a climate change project with 28 partners across 18 countries in Europe and Africa, and 3 associate partners directly involved in the sustainable management of the three Eastern boundary large marine ecosystems of the Tropical Atlantic.

Funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) – Cooperation (ENV.2013.6.1-1: Climate-related ocean processes and combined impacts of multiple stressors on the marine environment); under Grant Agreement number 603521.

Project duration: 48 months, started November 2013


The Tropical Atlantic climate recently experienced shifts of great socio-economic importance.

Figure 1 (Click on image for higher resolution) – Comparative vulnerability of national economies to climate impacts on fisheries (integrating exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) under IPCC scenario B2 (local development, lower emissions). CCLME – Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem; GCLME – Guinea Current LME; BCLME – Benguela Current LME. Adapted from Allison et al., 2009. Copyright: GRID-Arendal.

The oceanic changes were largest in the eastern boundary upwelling systems, globally important regions for marine productivity and climate. African countries bordering the Atlantic depend upon their ocean-societal development, fisheries, and tourism. They were strongly affected by these changes and will face important adaptation challenges associated with global warming (Fig.1).

Figure 2– Multi-model error in precipitation (mm/day) using 21 models and a time period from 01-01-1979 to 31-12-2005. Courtesy of Lea Svendsen.

Paradoxically, the Tropical Atlantic is a region of key uncertainty in the earth-climate system: state-of-the-art climate models exhibit large systematic error (Fig.2), climate change projections are highly uncertain, and it is largely unknown how climate change will impact marine ecosystems and what are the consequent global socio-economic impacts. The magnitude of the problem and the need to resolve it is internationally recognised.

PREFACE takes on the challenge to redress this situation through the first comprehensive assessment of the Tropical Atlantic. Together European and African expertise will combine sophisticated observation systems, extensive field experiments and regional and global scale modelling capabilities to achieve this.


Allison EH, Perry AL, Badjeck MC, Adger WN, Brown K, Conway D, Halls AS, Pilling GM, Reynolds JD, Andrew NL, Dulvy NK, 2009: Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate changes on fisheries. Fish and Fisheries 10:173-196.

Image source (from top left to bottom right:) Jörn Schmidt, CAU, Germany; IRD-PIRATA (Oceano R/V), France; Jörn Schmidt, CAU, Germany; Bernard Bourlès, IRD, France
Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research
University of Bergen