Sub-Saharan Northern African climate at the end of the twenty-first century: forcing factors and climate change processesReport as inadecuate

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Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 5–6, pp 1165–1188

First Online: 29 September 2010Received: 27 May 2010Accepted: 05 September 2010


A regional climate model, the Weather Research and Forecasting WRF Model, is forced with increased atmospheric CO2 and anomalous SSTs and lateral boundary conditions derived from nine coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models to produce an ensemble set of nine future climate simulations for northern Africa at the end of the twenty-first century. A well validated control simulation, agreement among ensemble members, and a physical understanding of the future climate change enhance confidence in the predictions. The regional model ensembles produce consistent precipitation projections over much of northern tropical Africa. A moisture budget analysis is used to identify the circulation changes that support future precipitation anomalies. The projected midsummer drought over the Guinean Coast region is related partly to weakened monsoon flow. Since the rainfall maximum demonstrates a southward bias in the control simulation in July–August, this may be indicative of future summer drying over the Sahel. Wetter conditions in late summer over the Sahel are associated with enhanced moisture transport by the West African westerly jet, a strengthening of the jet itself, and moisture transport from the Mediterranean. Severe drought in East Africa during August and September is accompanied by a weakened Indian monsoon and Somali jet. Simulations with projected and idealized SST forcing suggest that overall SST warming in part supports this regional model ensemble agreement, although changes in SST gradients are important over West Africa in spring and fall. Simulations which isolate the role of individual climate forcings suggest that the spatial distribution of the rainfall predictions is controlled by the anomalous SST and lateral boundary conditions, while CO2 forcing within the regional model domain plays an important secondary role and generally produces wetter conditions.

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Author: C. M. Patricola - K. H. Cook


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