1 GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE TRAINING MATERIAL
A. Introduction and purpose of this training material
The Arab region in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) represents a substantial area of the terrestrial landmass encompassing several countries and ecosystems. This area is generally drier and warmer compared to the rest of the world and has extreme resource limitations that are highly vulnerable to a changing climate, geopolitical instability and land degradation (Slimani & Aidoud, 2004). Agriculture (crops and livestock) is a critical source of employment and a potential option for engaging rural youth. However, environmental degradation coupled with declining and variable agricultural productivity may pose a massive challenge already beset by instability and declining oil reserves (Tagliapietra, 2017). The Arab region is also subjected to short and long-duration climate extreme events, and the overall impact of their cascading effects on ecosystems, societies and economies is still an open question. Climate change, along with post-war geopolitical complexities, has greatly affected the Arab region in terms of its economy and social balance. Climate change has penetrating effects on the region’s agriculture sector and hence its economy. These are mainly manifested via changes in water resources and extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves and a drastic decline in precipitation.
Although several downscaled and bias-corrected climate datasets are available, their operational use is too challenging for lay and novice users. To make the data meaningful, it must be assimilated into crop models to support context-specific climate-smart agriculture (CSA) solutions that often present technical challenges. To overcome these, and to support increased utilization of the data, a training manual on how to use the Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR) data in a popular crop simulation model has been developed. The main objective of this training material is to develop instructional materials for agriculture extension agents and practitioners interested in using crop modeling in their activities on how to integrate and utilize long-term climate data in a typical and commonly used crop model such as APSIM and identify a Context-Based Climate Adaptation Option (CBCAO)
B. The RICCAR climate data series
An ensemble climate product developed under the RICCAR project is used for the long-term future climate data inputted into the crop simulation model. RICCAR is an outcome of a collaborative effort between the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the League of Arab States and respective specialized organizations in response to the request of the Arab Ministerial Water Council and the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment to deepen the understanding of the impact of climate change. The RICCAR initiative aims to assess the impact of climate change on freshwater resources in the Arab region through a consultative and integrated assessment that seeks to identify the socioeconomic and environmental vulnerability caused by climate change impacts on water resources in the Arab region. There are two series of RICCAR climate products as shown in table 1: (1) the RICCAR-Arab Domain and (2) the RICCAR-Mashreq Domain. In this training manual, the data sets will be used according to the context. The RICCAR-Arab Domain consists of the outputs of three global climate models (GCMs) (CNRM-CM5, GFDL-ESM2M and EC-EARTH1 ) that were downscaled and bias-corrected (1951-2100) for different climate change scenarios (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5). The spatial resolution is 50 km with a daily time step from 1951 to 2100. The RICCAR-Mashreq Domain consists of the outputs of six GCMs (CMCC-CM2-SR5, CNRMESM2-1, EC-Earth3-Veg, MPI-ESM1-2 -LR, MRI-ESM2-0 and NorESM2-MM2 ) that were downscaled and bias-corrected for the SSP5-8.5 climate change scenario. The geographical area of these two domains is shown in the map. In this manual, these climate products were strategically analysed, and the climate change dynamics of the Arab region were studied.