Land surface processes as a determinant of climate change in Africa - scenarios, high-resolution modelling and development of a data portal for stakeholders

The overall objective of the LANDSURF project is to develop a high-resolution, regional Earth System Model for West Africa (WESM), coupled to an ocean model and with a new, fully interactive land surface scheme. Several sub-goals need to be achieved to create the model. The results and information from the research work will be made available to end users in sub-Saharan West Africa via a web portal so that they can benefit from the knowledge gained. Through various workshops and capacity development measures, knowledge transfer is guaranteed and the involvement of end users on the ground is ensured.


In its sub-project, the Geoecology Working Group is responsible for the creation of an interactive, multilingual and freely available web portal. This serves as the main tool for disseminating information and data from the research work and is planned as a decision support system for stakeholders and smallholders who are in the process of adapting to climate change in West Africa.

Sub-project leader:
Project partners
  • Institut für Geographie und Geologie, Universität Würzburg
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Climate Service Center Germany Hamburg
  • Institut für Geowissenschaften und Geographie, University Halle-Wittenberg
  • University Ouagadougou 1 Prof. Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
  • United Nations University, Accra (Ghana)
  • Federal University of Technology Akure, Akure, (Nigeria)
  • AGRHYMET, Niamey (Niger)
Background and objectives:

The African continent faces various challenges and numerous risks due to climate change. In order to strengthen the resilience of West African societies in the areas of agriculture, food security, water management and risk management, timely adaptation measures need to be planned and implemented. This requires reliable and easily accessible regional climate information tailored to the needs of different end users. Extensive modelling is needed to generate such information on future climate change.

  • The overall goal is to develop a high-resolution, regional Earth System Model for West Africa (WESM), coupled to an ocean model and with a new, fully interactive land surface scheme.


  • Investigate high-resolution, spatio-temporal datasets of land use changes and develop scenarios.
  • Coupling a regional climate model to an ocean model and complementing it with a land surface model and soil hydrology model
  • Analysing and illustrating important indicators of climate change in sub-Saharan West Africa
  • Validate model data with observational data
  • Include the needs of West African end users
    • Creation of interactive, multilingual web portal
    • Implementation of the novel WESM at the WASCAL Competence Centre in Ouagadougou
    • Provide a userfriendly version of the atmospheric component of the WESM.
  • Knowledge and method transfer with practical relevance through capacity development measures and workshops
Methodological approach:

To achieve the sub-project of the Geoecology WG, the creation of the web portal, a participatory approach is followed. In order to ensure the inclusion of the end users and to respond to their needs, different end users and end user associations They will be involved in the design and creation of the web portal. There will be opportunities to monitor the process and test and improve preliminary versions of the portal. This will ensure that the final web portal is highly useful.

Expected results:

The final, high-resolution Earth system model will provide important insights into climatic development in West Africa. Thus, insights will be gained that will help the West African population to adapt to the numerous risks and challenges of climate change and strengthen resilience. With the help of the web portal, access to the results of the research work is guaranteed to a broad range of interested parties.

Koenig, L., Teucher, M., Ziegler, K., Abel, D., Weber, T., Paeth, H. and Conrad, C. (2023) Development of a Web Based Decision Support System to Provide Relevant Climate Indicators for Climate Change Adaption. other, oral.


West Africa, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger
Research, knowledge exchange