TITLE

Projections of a Wetter Sahel in the Twenty-First Century from Global and Regional Models

AUTHOR(S)
Vizy, Edward K.; Cook, Kerry H.; Crétat, Julien; Neupane, Naresh
PUB. DATE
July 2013
SOURCE
Journal of Climate;Jul2013, Vol. 26 Issue 13, p4664
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Confident regional-scale climate change predictions for the Sahel are needed to support adaptation planning. State-of-the-art regional climate model (RCM) simulations at 90- and 30-km resolutions are run and analyzed along with output from five coupled atmosphere-ocean GCMs (AOGCMs) from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) to predict how the Sahel summer surface temperature, precipitation, and surface moisture are likely to change at the mid- and late-twenty-first century due to increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) emission scenario and evaluate confidence in such projections. Future lateral boundary conditions are derived from CMIP5 AOGCMs. It is shown that the regional climate model can realistically simulate the current summer evolution of the West African monsoon climate including the onset and demise of the Sahel wet season, a necessary but not sufficient condition for confident prediction. RCM and AOGCM projections indicate the likelihood for increased surface air temperatures over this century, with Sahara and Sahel temperature increases of 2-3.5 K by midcentury, and 3-6 K by late century. Summer rainfall and surface moisture are also projected to increase over most of the Sahel. This is primarily associated with an increase in rainfall intensity and not a lengthening of the wet season. Pinpointing exactly when the rainfall and surface moisture increase will first commence and by exactly what magnitude is less certain as these predictions appear to be model dependent. Models that simulate stronger warming over the Sahara are associated with larger and earlier rainfall increases over the Sahel due to an intensification of the low-level West African westerly jet, and vice versa.
ACCESSION #
88906979

 

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