Climate Change Modeling

Climate Change Modeling
November 29, 2011
ACC Climate Change Modeling - Kenya-Tanzania Borderlands
Photo © Matthew Cramblett

Climate Change Modeling

ACC, Missouri Botanical Garden, University of York, Yale University, UC San Diego, and national institutions in Kenya and Tanzania have been studying the threats posed by climate change and land fragmentation to biodiversity and rural livelihoods in East Africa. This research, funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, SERVIR, NASA and USAI, brought together scientists and conservationists from these institutions to map the distribution of animals, plants and human livelihoods and model their vulnerability to climate and land use change. Through collaborative approach, we are able to recommend mitigating and adaptive strategies.


Implementing & Funding Partners

Plants & Climate Change

Plants are often overlooked in conservation planning, yet they form the foundation of all ecosystems, harnessing the sun’s energy and thus providing nutrition for the entire food chain. Their function as the structural component of habitats also provides shelter and nesting sites for animals, as well as contributing to climate-change mitigation through carbon sequestration. ACC together with its partners, modeled species distributions based on herbarium specimen label data and on environmental and topographic data from across the Kenya-Tanzania Borderlands. The indicator taxa were selected to represent a cross-section of habitat specialisation, abundance, and taxonomy.

Climate predictions for 2025 and 2055 were derived from forecasts made by the International Panel for Climate Change Fourth Assessment (IPCC 2007; IPCC-AR4). For each climate model we used two extremes from the IPCC scenarios of predicted climate change. The first of these represents little change in the current rate of increase in global population and greenhouse gas emissions. The second represents a more positive outlook that describes a convergent world with a stable global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter.

Maasai Mara
Photo © Carolyn Greene

Rangelands & Climate Change

The rangelands cover two thirds of Kenya, account for over 60% of Kenya’s livestock production and 80% of its tourism revenues, yet receive little attention in national development. The economic potential of the rangelands ranges from commercial livestock production and improved dryland farming to a geographically enlarged and diversified tourism industry and untapped and undervalued ecological services. The rangelands account for over 70% of Kenya’s carbon storage and ACC is working in the rangelands to restore their productivity and resilience of pastoral communities while adapting to the impacts of Climate Change.

This project is researching the resilience and adaptation of pastoral systems through case studies at multiple scales and developing new and innovative solutions to strengthen rangeland resiliency, including land tenure and management, institutional development, environmental governance and collaborative arrangements.


Building on decades of experience working with pastoral communities in Kenya and on local capacity, ACC is expanding the existing systems of community based resource assessment.

Borderlands & Climate Change

The 60,000 square kilometer region stretching across the Great Rift Valley from Serengeti-Maasai Mara in the west to Tsavo and Mkomazi in the east hosts the one of the richest mammal and bird assemblages on earth. The borderlands account for 80% of the large mammals, 50% of the vertebrates and 25% of the vascular plants found in Kenya and Tanzania. The region also has many regional endemic species and threatened animals and plants. The diverse landscape spans 14 world-renowned parks, attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year and generates half-billion-dollars in revenues for the two African nations. The borderlands are also home to the Maasai and other indigenous peoples whose lifestyle and hardy livestock help them survive harsh droughts and compete with wildlife.

The climate scenarios and tools developed were applied on a broader national scale to assess and visualize biodiversity vulnerability of the Kenya flora and fauna.

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