Monsoons in a Changing Climate
This presentation provides a general overview of how the monsoon rains "work" in general and specifically in the context of the African Sahel, an exploration of the changes that have been occurring with the monsoon rains, and one hypothesis of why those changes are occurring that demonstrates climate feedback. It concludes with an illustration of how those changes are affecting the people who live there and generating political instability. In particular, it focuses on how vegetation and land use may reinforce to "lock-in" climate changes. Students are asked to prepare for the class through readings and the class time (50 minutes to 80 minutes, depending on the depth of the discussion) is used for a presentation on the topic. The presentation is not intended to fully explain the monsoons in the Sahel, but rather to illustrate the complexity of the system and how human activities might affect it.
- Students will be able to describe how the monsoon rains 'work' in general and, specifically, in the African Sahel.
- Students will be able to relate changes in the monsoon to climate feedbacks.
- Students can explain the ways in which monsoon changes might affect the people who live in the Sahel and the political stability of the region.
Context for Use
This lesson was developed for liberal arts students taking a special topics course in anthropology focusing on pastoralists. The course was aimed at students who have the ability to read somewhat technical articles with understanding.
Description and Teaching Materials
With the preparation of the readings, the class presentation (notes are included in the PowerPoint) walks students through the background on the monsoon in the Sahel, the human cultural systems that exist in that climate, and the different climate mechanisms that affect the monsoon.
Using the NASA report, the presentation argues the plausibility the feedback effects from vegetation can influence changes in the monsoon. Then, it illustrates how these climate issues can at least exacerbate, if not outright cause, political instability using the Ivory Coast and Nigeria examples.
- Slides for Monsoon Mini-Module (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.1MB Jan24 17)