Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
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The Horn of Africa is a geopolitically volatile region that is highly vulnerable to climatic change. A recent decline in rainfall in the region has led some to speculate whether global warming will lead to more frequent drought. However, others maintain that the decline is a feature of internal climate variability. Establishing which interpretation is correct is critical for future predictions of food security in the region. Here, I'll present new paleoclimate records that give us a first look at recent past changes in rainfall and temperature in the Horn of Africa. Interpreted in the context of CMIP5 historical and future climate simulations, these data change our view of future climate change in the region and question our ability to accurately simulate regional climate in East Africa. Future climate change will likely act as a threat multiplier in the Horn region, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities associated with political instability, terrorism, and piracy.