Climate projections for the sub-Saharan region of West Africa

Meteorologist Dr Imoleayo Ezekiel Gbode is researching the development of a West African Earth System Model to provide high-resolution, regional climate change information.

From nature lover to climate researcher
Even in his youth, nature and the environment were particularly important to Imoleayo Gbode: "That's why green, for example, is my favourite colour." Originally, he wanted to become a mining engineer. But then another subject aroused his interest: Studying the effects of weather on humans and the environment captivated him, so he enrolled in meteorology at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Nigeria.

Career with WASCAL
Gbode did his Master's degree at the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at FUTA in Nigeria. He then completed his doctorate in the WASCAL doctoral programme for West African Climate Systems, funded by the BMBF, before going through the climapAfrica postdoctoral programme, funded by the BMBF and implemented by the DAAD.

Today, Dr Gbode works as a lecturer in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at FUTA. His goal is to be one of the African scientists who contribute to the development of the best possible solutions for climate adaptation measures: "These should be implemented and politically anchored better today than tomorrow. This is the only way we can ensure inclusive 'green' growth, low-emission, and climate-resilient sustainable development in Africa."

A research project called LANDSURF
Even today as a scientist, WASCAL (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) accompanies him. This is because WASCAL not only supports educational programmes for young researchers, but also climate research projects. The aim is to strengthen climate resilience on the ground in Africa. In the WASCAL project LANDSURF, Imoleayo Gbode is researching the development of a high-resolution earth system model for West Africa (WESM), which is coupled with an ocean model and contains a new, fully interactive surface model. In this way, he and his colleagues are making a significant contribution to the WASCAL research programme.

The data obtained in the new WESM model is fed into a web-based system. This system serves as a decision-making aid for the areas of agriculture, food security, water management and risk management, as it takes into account specific regional information on climate change. In addition, the researchers are directly involving end users such as farmers in the construction of the system. "With LANDSURF, we are paying special attention to the needs of farmers. Our research so far has shown, for example, the prominent role of agricultural use of uncovered soils and marine influence for climate variability and climate prediction in the sub-Saharan region of West Africa." Gbode explains further: "The combination of an atmosphere-ocean model with an interactive vegetation model with the same high resolution is unprecedented. This provides a new generation of more realistic climate projections that give us information about possible climate developments in the future. They serve as a scientific basis for decision-making for better adaptation measures in West Africa."

Imoleayo Gbode is pleased with the BMBF funding, which is helping Africa build capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change for a climate-resilient and sustainable future. "It provides a unique opportunity for young scientists like myself in Africa at the time to develop their careers in climate science and to produce high quality research results and disseminate them in scientific publications."

On fire for research
Gbode also conducts research in global and regional climate modelling, climate extremes, air pollution, climate information services and early warning systems. A selection of his publications are listed at Currently, for example, Gbode is working on what he calls the variability of the West African monsoon, a system responsible for over 70 per cent of rainfall in the West African region during the rainy season and air quality during the Har-mattan (dry) period. "One of my ongoing research is aimed at better understanding the interactions between aerosols, radiation and clouds that affect the characteristics of the monsoon and, consequently, the rainfall and air quality in the region. This information is very important for economic activities such as agriculture, water resource management and health care."
He also supports the African Development Bank (AfDB) in developing climate change adaptation projects and programmes for the Green Climate Fund. "The skills and knowledge I have acquired during my studies and fellowships are very useful to me. Because here I not only gained the technical knowledge, but also learnt to work effectively and efficiently."

Work and family
The 37-year-old is the father of two "lovely" daughters, as he says himself. Balancing his work as a scientist and his role as a family man is quite a challenge, he says: "But I try to make sure that my work life does not interfere with the time I want to spend with my family. My wife is very supportive and understanding about this whenever the demands of work are high and require extra time."

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