West African Monsoon: current state and future projections in a high-resolution AGCM

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The West African Monsoon (WAM) involves the interaction of multi-scale processes ranging from planetary to cumulus scales, which makes it challenging for coarse resolution General Circulation Models to accurately simulate WAM. The present study evaluates the ability of the high-resolution (∼ 25 km) Atmospheric General Circulation Model HiRAM to simulate the WAM and to analyze its future projections by the end of the 21st century. For the historical period, two AMIP-type simulations were conducted, one forced with observed SST from Hadley Center Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature dataset and the other forced with SST from the coarse resolution Earth System Model (ESM2M), which is the parent model of HiRAM, i.e. both models have the same dynamical core and similar physical parameterizations. The future projection, using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 and SST from ESM2M is also conducted. A process-based evaluation is carried out to elucidate HiRAM’s ability to represent the key processes and multiscale dynamic features those define the WAM circulation. Compared to ESM2M, HiRAM better represents most of the key circulation elements at different scales, and thus more accurately represents the intensity and spatial distribution of the WAM rainfall. The position of the African easterly jet is considerably improved in HiRAM simulations, leading to the improved positioning of the WAM rainbelt and the two-cell structure of convection. The future projection of the WAM exhibits warming over the entire domain, decreasing precipitation over the southern Sahel, and increase of precipitation over the western Sahara.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6441-6461
Number of pages21
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank V. Ramaswamy, M. Zhao, B. Wyman, and C. Kerr of GFDL for their assistance with acquiring and using HiRAM model. The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). For computer time, this research used the resources of the KAUST Supercomputing Laboratory, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. The simulations and figures are available from the authors upon request. The GPCP Precipitation data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, are available at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/ and the HadCRUT data are available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/.


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