Earth Institute Research Projects

CAREER: Characterizing the Uncertainty in Projections of Climate Change in the Semi-Arid Tropics Based on the Moist Static Energy Framework

Lead PI: Dr. Alessandra Giannini

Unit Affiliation: International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

September 2010 - August 2017
Global ; Sahel ; New York City, NY ; New York
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Research will work to reduce uncertainty in climate projections in the tropics by adopting the moist static energy framework and characterizing physical processes that may cause model divergence. Education will engage communities of West African descent in Harlem.

OUTCOMES: 1) Analyses of the behavior of the multi-model ensembles in phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project in relation to precipitation in the Sahel: developed a framework for oceanic influence on Sahel rainfall that explains past variations and future change. 2) A high school curriculum to teach about climate change from an interdisciplinary climate justice perspective, adopted at Frederick Douglass Academy.


National Science Foundation (NSF)




Megan Sheremata, Evelyn Roman-Lazen, Jah-Vin Vaughan, Pradipta Parhi, Catherine Pomposi


Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering; Frederick Douglass Academy, NYC Department of Education



Giannini, A., S. Salack, T. Lodoun, A. Ali, A. T. Gaye and O. Ndiaye, 2013. A unifying view of climate change in the Sahel linking intra-seasonal, interannual and longer time scales. Environmental Research Letters, 8, 024010, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024010;

Xie, S.-P., C. Deser, G. A. Vecchi, M. Collins, T. L. Delworth, A. Hall, E. Hawkins, N. C. Johnson, C. Cassou, A. Giannini and M. Watanabe, 2015. Towards predictive understanding of regional climate change. Nature Climate Change, 5, 921-930, doi:10.1038/nclimate2689

Parhi, P., A. Giannini, P. Gentine and U. Lall, 2016. Resolving contrasting regional rainfall responses to ENSO over tropical Africa. J. Climate, 29, 1461-1476, doi: JCLI-D-15-0071.1

Pomposi, C., A. Giannini, Y. Kushnir and D. E. Lee, 2016. Understanding Pacific Ocean influence on inter- annual precipitation variability in the Sahel. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 9234-9242, doi:10.1002/2016GL069980

Giannini, A. and A. Kaplan, 2019. The role of aerosols and greenhouse gases in Sahel drought and recovery. Climatic Change, 152, 449-466, doi: 10.1007/s10584-018-2341-9


precipitation climate justice climate moist static energy prediction uncertainty divergent model behavior ocean and climate physics


Modeling and Adapting to Future Climate