Earth Institute Research Projects

A model-based investigation of climate variability and climate change: Focus on the West African monsoon system

Lead PI: Dr. Leonard M. Druyan

Unit Affiliation: Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR)

August 2010 - July 2013
Africa ; West Africa
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The project investigates the variability of weather and climate over West Africa, a region that includes the Sahel employing a high horizontal resolution regional model, which has the potential for more accurate computations of important meteorological variables than with a coarser grid global model. Consequently, the regional model is expected to simulate and to represent spatial climate features more realistically than a global model.

OUTCOMES: Project research simulated five years of climate over West Africa, driven by each reanalysis in turn, and compared the resulting regional model simulation results to observational evidence. A second study within the project used the simulation model to test whether the yearly springtime development of a region of relatively cold water in the Gulf of Guinea plays a role in accelerating the northward surge of precipitation toward the Sahel. By comparing a control simulation with the cold water to one for which the cold region was neutralized, the research was able to demonstrate that the cold water moderates precipitation rates over West Africa, but does not accelerate the northward advance of rainfall.