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      Agriculture in West Africa in the Twenty-First Century: Climate Change and Impacts Scenarios, and Potential for Adaptation

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          Abstract

          West Africa is known to be particularly vulnerable to climate change due to high climate variability, high reliance on rain-fed agriculture, and limited economic and institutional capacity to respond to climate variability and change. In this context, better knowledge of how climate will change in West Africa and how such changes will impact crop productivity is crucial to inform policies that may counteract the adverse effects. This review paper provides a comprehensive overview of climate change impacts on agriculture in West Africa based on the recent scientific literature. West Africa is nowadays experiencing a rapid climate change, characterized by a widespread warming, a recovery of the monsoonal precipitation, and an increase in the occurrence of climate extremes. The observed climate tendencies are also projected to continue in the twenty-first century under moderate and high emission scenarios, although large uncertainties still affect simulations of the future West African climate, especially regarding the summer precipitation. However, despite diverging future projections of the monsoonal rainfall, which is essential for rain-fed agriculture, a robust evidence of yield loss in West Africa emerges. This yield loss is mainly driven by increased mean temperature while potential wetter or drier conditions as well as elevated CO 2 concentrations can modulate this effect. Potential for adaptation is illustrated for major crops in West Africa through a selection of studies based on process-based crop models to adjust cropping systems (change in varieties, sowing dates and density, irrigation, fertilizer management) to future climate. Results of the cited studies are crop and region specific and no clear conclusions can be made regarding the most effective adaptation options. Further efforts are needed to improve modeling of the monsoon system and to better quantify the uncertainty in its changes under a warmer climate, in the response of the crops to such changes and in the potential for adaptation.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Plant Sci
                Front Plant Sci
                Front. Plant Sci.
                Frontiers in Plant Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-462X
                30 August 2016
                2016
                : 7
                10.3389/fpls.2016.01262
                5004487
                Copyright © 2016 Sultan and Gaetani.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Counts
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 214, Pages: 20, Words: 19141
                Categories
                Plant Science
                Review

                Plant science & Botany

                agriculture, adaptation, impacts, climate change, west african monsoon

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