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IMPALA: Improving Model Processes For African Climate

The project aims to improve the ability of climate models to capture African climate systems, and thereby better enable decision-makers in Africa to use climate information.
Multiple Authors
Pawan Paudyal


Current climate models have only a modest ability to capture African climate systems. Because of this, there is large uncertainty and low scientific confidence in important aspects of the projections for Africa’s climate in the next 5–40 years. These factors are limiting the use of climate information by decision-makers in Africa.

IMPALA aims to improve the understanding of Africa’s climate and the mechanisms of future change, and thereby help provide high-quality information that is crucial for effective decision making across the continent. IMPALA will lead to a step-change in global climate model prediction capability, which until now has not been available across many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The information gathered by the new research will help decision-makers reduce climate-related risks. For example, infrastructure can be re-designed to account for high temperatures and changing rainfall, while health, education and social support systems, and local planning decisions could be designed to cope with future climate conditions.

With its integral team of climate scientists from African organisations, IMPALA will evaluate the performance benefits its research brings to prediction capability over the African continent. In turn, improved model performance will underpin reduced uncertainty in climate predictions over the next 5-40 years – the lifespan of many development projects being designed today. IMPALA is part of the Future Climate For Africa programme, running from 2015 to 2019.

Within FRACTAL, two other projects aiming to improve climate models were developed, which can be accessed here for further reading:

  • HyCRISTAL: Integrating Hydro-Climate Science Into Policy Decisions For Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa
  • AMMA 2050: African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis 2050

It is vital the climate information produced by these projects is used to guide long-term development in Africa. Read this article to learn how climate information needs to be produced and used to guide long-term development.

Objectives and Approach

IMPALA aims to deliver a step change in global climate model capability that will reduce uncertainty and enable better informed evaluation of the robustness of future projections.

The project will focus on a single climate model, the Met Office Unified Model, to improve its simulation of African climate through a better understanding and representation of weather and climate processes. This will result in reduced uncertainty in future projections of the African climate and provide valuable information to climate scientists and modellers within Africa and worldwide, and empower decision-makers with information that can be used to reduce risks and help protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

The IMPALA project will develop, for the first time, a pan-African very high resolution model (grid-spacing of around 4km) to better capture key processes and local-scale weather phenomena including extremes, providing new understanding of the roles played by these processes in African climate variability and change. The improved knowledge and new simulations will be used by scientists in the four regional Future Climate for Africa research projects (AMMA-2050, FRACTAL, HyCRISTAL and UMFULA). This, in turn, will deliver more reliable information for decision-makers and scientists in a range of sectors including agriculture, urban and rural water resources, health and infrastructure management and renewable energy.


  • Met Office (UK)
  • African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development
  • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK)
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Nairobi
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Reading
  • University of Yaoundé


IMPALA is one of the five research consortia which form the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) Programme, jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development and the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Some of this text was taken from a description of the IMPALA project on the Met Office website; this can be viewed here:

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