March 3-12, 1997, Mombasa, Kenya

Global Analysis, Interpretation and Modelling (GAIM)
International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP)
Kenyan National Academy of Sciences (KNAS)

Click here for the PDF (Adobe Acrobat) version of this report


Berrien Moore III, IGBP/GAIM

Dork Sahagian, IGBP/GAIM

Wandera Ogana, KNAS

View Full Size Photograph of Waterhole

Opening Address

Workshop Participants

Participant Research Presentations

Participant Workshop Models

GAIM-African Task Team Minutes

Newspaper Articles



The African-GAIM Modelling workshop was made possible by generous financial support from:

US National Science Foundation (NSF)

US National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA)

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The World Meteorological Association (WMO)

System for Analysis, Research and Training (IGBP/START)

The African Association of Universities (AAU)

Computers for the Modelling workshop were donated by the Hewlett Packard Corporation (HP).

Thanks go to those resource people who developed and presented models, thus helping participants in their modelling work. These include:

Bill Parton

Robin Kelly

Charles Vorosmarty

Laurent Kergoat

Paul Desanker

Roland Schulze

Andrew Pike


Special thanks go to Alex Proussevitch for his hard work in configuring all donated computers for the workshop models.

IGBP/GAIM wishes to express the deepest gratitude to Professor Wandera Ogana, who helped throughout the planning stages, acted as host in Kenya, and made all the local arrangements to make the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop possible. The success of the workshop was a result of his tireless efforts.



The Goal of the IGBP Task Force for Global Analysis, Interpretation, and Modelling (GAIM) is to advance the study of the coupled dynamics of the Earth system using as tools both data and models.

GAIM emphasizes activities designed to expand upon the development, testing, and analyses of integrative data sets and models of those aspects of the Earth system where the IGBP program has the scientific lead, and works in collaboration on aspects of the Earth system where World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has the lead. GAIM collaborates with IGBP Core Projects in identifying appropriate component models, in assisting in the integration of these into coupled models, and in testing and applying these coupled models. The integration, testing, and analysis of coupled models generates specific requirements for data: for initialization, forcing, and validation. Development of these data sets is coordinated through IGBP Data and Information Systems (DIS).

The global environmental issues that the IGBP is seeking to understand confront all regions: they hold a particular challenge for developing regions where growing populations may intersect increasing rates of environmental change. Many tropical regions display both the causes of global change (e.g. biomass burning) and their effects (e.g. variations in precipitation patterns). These cause-effect systems offer not only an environmental challenge but also a scientific opportunity to understand better the relationship between human society and the biosphere. In addition, these regions hold important records of past environmental change that are important if we are to test models and ideas about future environmental change. Finally, in many developing regions there is not yet an adequate scientific or policy community to participate fully in the global environment policy process (e.g. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)). These considerations offer a challenge to IGBP, to the IGBP Core Projects, to the IGBP GAIM Task Force, and to the IGBP-DIS effort. In part, Global Change System for Analysis, Research, and Training (START) and the European Network for Research In Global Change (ENRICH) were created to facilitate the IGBP and its sister Programs, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP), in meeting this challenge.



The African-GAIM Modelling Workshop was directed toward:

The Workshop focused on models applicable to Africa in the global context, including terrestrial ecosystem and hydrologic models. Hydrological and ecological models were presented, run by participants in hands-on "laboratory" sessions, and interpreted in terms of African and global applications. Participants developed their own modelling projects during the workshop, to be subsequently expanded at their home institutions as part of broader African global change modelling community. The intent was to include as many younger scientists as possible. It is expected that participants will continue to use and disseminate modelling techniques developed at the workshop in their ongoing research.

Workshop Program

After a day of general presentations on modelling and global change from the African perspective, participants divided into two parallel sessions with one focusing on hydrologic models while and the other on ecological models. These models were presented by their developers and workshop participants were given hands-on experience in running and manipulating the models and their results. Subsequently, a simple box-modelling program was introduced to give the participants the opportunity to recreate certain aspects of the hydro- and eco- models as well as to create their own models in real time at the workshop. The final phase of the workshop was a team effort by participant groups to develop a project or pose a tractable problem for collaborative research in the months following the workshop. These included some which represented extension of existing African IGBP programs as well as new projects which were formulated at the workshop. A description of each of these is included in the appendix.

Poster Presentations

The participant presentations highlighted the fact that there is a great deal of research expertise throughout Africa. There are also numerous international research programs being conducted throughout Africa, some within the auspices of IGBP. In order to put the modelling activities being addressed at the Workshop into context within the framework of other ongoing activities in Africa, representatives from each major program were asked to bring a poster to display so that each participant could learn about these activities. The posters served as a rallying point for those interested in the various ongoing projects, and lively discussions were held over breaks, between sessions, and throughout the workshop. This presented an opportunity for participants to become involved in the projects and for representatives of the projects to tap into a larger expertise base than previously available.

African Priorities

A special session was held for discussion of issues impacting the African global change research community. Of these, two issues emerged as primary- resources, and human impacts.

1. It was clear from the start of the workshop that in many institutions throughout Africa, there are insufficient resources to conduct the research needed to support an African modelling community. In particular, even the most basic computing facilities are often lacking. It was determined that this problem could best be solved in the context of active research projects. In the course of collaborative funded research, the necessary resources for modelling projects would become available. The workshop participants are formulating research projects in the months following the workshop.

2. The second issue was the importance of human impacts of global change to the African research community. In most regions in Africa, there is considerable concern regarding the ability of current and projected food production systems to provide sufficiently for the growing population in the face of changing and variable climate conditions.

Models were loaded onto workshop computers prior to transport to the workshop site thus eliminating technical delays. A significant aspect of the workshop was to prepare the participants to return to their home institutions with the modelling exposure that will enable them to help build a stronger, more integrated African modelling community. In addition, the participants will act as a knowledge base for further education and capacity building within the African universities and research community in the coming years.

African -GAIM Task Team

A small interim task team was formed from among the participants to:

Scientific Agenda- While it is not possible to mandate a scientific agenda for the large and diverse community involved in African modelling research, a few key issues were identified as potentially important. These include hydrology and water resources, ecosystems such as woodlands and rangelands, and human health and changing disease vectors. Many of these will be addressed in the context of the modelling component of African Large-Scale Interdisciplinary Projects such as the Miombo activity and the Kalahari transect.

Intra-African Interaction- Modelling involves detailed understanding and conceptual input from a wide variety of disciplines. As such, it is necessary for modellers to collaborate with African scientists involved in quantifying the relationships between key parameters in natural systems. At the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop, it became clear that as participants developed the structure of their models during the project development phase of the workshop, formulation of the actual relationships between parameters was needed. The participants went home from the workshop with clear objectives to obtain the understanding, either empirically from observations or theoretically from detailed analysis, necessary to apply their models to real systems.

Funding- A major issue arising at the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop was predictably the situation with resources for conducting research in Africa. With only a few exceptions, funds for global change research are exceedingly scarce within Africa, creating a major obstacle to accomplishing the scientific goals as outlined at the workshop, throughout the IGBP, and by the IPCC. However, it was judged that international funding requests made on the basis of lack of resources would not be as successful as those made on the basis of specific scientific projects. Consequently, it was deemed desirable to develop the modelling projects initiated at the workshop in addition to the modelling components of African Large-Scale Interdisciplinary Projects, so that concrete international research proposals could be written to support the projects.

Data- The availability of data to calibrate as well as validate models is variable across Africa, both in terms of geography and discipline. Preliminary models clearly identify critical data necessary for understanding the details of the modelled processes. In some regions, the necessary data simply do not exist. In conjunction with IGBP-DIS, new data sets will need to be compiled in these cases. In other regions, the necessary data already exist at least in part, but are made unavailable by national or international agencies seeking "cost recovery" from funds granted to data collection projects. At present none can afford the cost of buying such data, so the data sets remain underutilized. If additional international funds were to become available to purchase such data, the net transfer of funds from one funding agency to another, or even within the same agency would cause additional costly time lags and administrative expenses. The participants at the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop urged that steps be taken at the international level to eliminate the circular and ineffective practice of "cost recovery."

Computers- Computer modelling is impossible without a computer. Yet many of the participants at the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop do not have sufficient machines in their home laboratories to run the models necessary to understand the hydrology, ecology and other aspects of global change in Africa. Further, even those laboratories which have computers in most cases do not have the Internet capabilities to enable communication and data transmission between international collaborators. It was consequently concluded that an African GAIM Task Team should facilitate the acquisition of the necessary computing and communications facilities for the modelling projects. This relates directly to the issues of funding discussed above, and is of sufficient importance to warrant noting separately.

Future GAIM Activity in Africa

The African-GAIM Modelling Workshop was a first step in augmenting the African global change modelling community. In considering future workshops, it was agreed by the participants that while the format for this first activity was an appropriate beginning, the next gathering should be based on the presentation of concrete results from modelling projects which emerged from the workshop. This should be done within the next two years, and the participants will keep in contact with each other and with GAIM in the meantime throughout the development, funding and implementation of their projects. A major set of presentations is planned for the SAC-V meeting in Nairobi in December, 1997.

Editor's note- SAC-V has been postponed until September, 1998.

African-GAIM Modelling Workshop International Organizing Committee

Berrien Moore- University of New Hampshire

Wandera Ogana- University of Nairobi

Dork Sahagian- University of New Hampshire

Bill Parton- Colorado State University

Roland Schulze- University of Natal

Charles Vorosmarty- University of New Hampshire

Jean-Louis Fellous- MEDIAS Secretariat, Toulouse

View Full Size Group Photo

Participants in the African-GAIM Modelling Workshop. From left to right: Kneeling: Ajavon, Kergoat, Gumbie, Goma, Sambo, Ngwa, Abdelkader; Standing: Sahagian, Vorosmarty, Ogana, Adewale, Chavula, Hailmariam, Pike, Kinyamario, Schulze, Joubert, Oke, Desanker, Gambiza, Moore, Boukchina, Kelly, Thiam, Rabah, Thahane, Ocaido, Yanda, Totolo, Sekhwela, Jain; On railing: Olago, Amissah-Arthur. Not shown: Foster, Parton.