EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The African greenhouse gases budget: flux trends and uncertainties for the 2009-2019 period 

Yolandi Ernst1, Sally Archibald, and the RECCAP2 Africa team*
Yolandi Ernst and Sally Archibald and the RECCAP2 Africa team
  • 1Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Africa contributes significantly to the global greenhouse gases (GHG) budget through extensive land use change that is driven by rapid population growth and low human development status. As part of the REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes Phase 2 (RECCAP2) project, we developed a comprehensive GHG budget for the period 2009-2019 for Africa. We considered bottom-up process-based models, data-driven remotely sensed products, and national greenhouse gas inventories in comparison with top-down atmospheric inversions, accounting also for lateral fluxes. We incorporated emission estimates derived from novel methodologies for termites, herbivores, and fire, which are of particular importance in Africa. We further constrained global biomass change products with high-quality local observation data. During the RECCAP2 period, Africa remains a net sink for carbon. Emissions from land cover change represents the largest contribution to the African budget. However, land cover change emissions in the drier savanna regions were largely offset by increased vegetation growth in the wet tropics. Additionally, fire emissions decreased as suggested by strong reductions in burned area. Burning of fuelwood has however increased. As expected, an upward trend in anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions was evident, ascribed to an increasing demand for energy by a growing and developing population. For all the component fluxes, uncertainty and interannual variability is large, which highlights the need for increased efforts to address Africa-specific data gaps. However, for RECCAP2, we have improved our overall understanding of many of the important components of the African GHG budget that will help to inform climate policy and action.

RECCAP2 Africa team:

Zhu Deng, Ben Gaubert, Anteneh Getachew, Thomas Higginbottom, Steven Higgins, Shakirudeen Lawal, Mauro Lourenco, Carola Martens, Lutz Merbold, Mthokozisi Moyo, Hannah Nguyen, Mike O’Sullivan, Thais Rosan, Casey Ryan, Simon Scheiter, Stephen Sitch, Torbern Tagesson, Hanqin Tian, Joel Woon, Bo Zheng, Yong Zhou, Bob Scholes

How to cite: Ernst, Y. and Archibald, S. and the RECCAP2 Africa team: The African greenhouse gases budget: flux trends and uncertainties for the 2009-2019 period , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-606,, 2023.