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L'article du mois (mars 2011)

WRF / Arpege-Climat simulated climate trends over West Africa

par Nicolas Vigaud, Pascal Roucou, Bernard Fontaine, Sivarajan Sijikumar et Sophie Tyteca
paru en mars 2011 dans la revue Climate Dynamics.
Volume 36, 5-6, 925-944, DOI:10.1007/s00382-009-0707-4

The Weather Regional Forecast (WRF) model is used in this study to downscale low-resolution data over West Africa. First, the performance of the regional model is estimated through contemporary period experiments (1981–1990) forced by ARPEGE-CLIMAT GCM output (ARPEGE) and ERA-40 re-analyses. Key features of the West African monsoon circulation are reasonably well represented. WRF atmospheric dynamics and summer rainfall compare better to observations than ARPEGE forcing data. WRF simulated moisture transport over West Africa is also consistent in both structure and variability with re-analyses, emphasizing the substantial role played by the West African Monsoon (WAM) and African Easterly Jet (AEJ) flows. The statistical significance of potential climate changes for the A2 scenario between 2032 and 2041 is enhanced in the downscaling from ARPEGE by the regional experiments, with substantial rainfall increases over the Guinea Gulf and eastern Sahel. Future scenario WRF simulations are characterized by higher temperatures over the eastern Tropical Atlantic suggesting more evaporation available locally. This leads to increased moisture advection towards eastern regions of the Guinea Gulf where rainfall is enhanced through a strengthened WAM flow, supporting surface moisture convergence over West Africa. Warmer conditions over both the Mediterranean region and northeastern Sahel could also participate in enhancing moisture transport within the AEJ. The strengthening of the thermal gradient between the Sahara and Guinean regions, particularly pronounced north of 10°N, would support an intensification of the AEJ northwards, given the dependance of the jet to the position/intensity of the meridional gradient. In turn, mid-tropospheric moisture divergence tends to be favored within the AEJ region supporting southwards deflection of moist air and contributing to deep moist convection over the Sahel where late summer rainfall regimes are sustained in the context of the A2 scenario regional projections. In conclusion, WRF proved to be a valuable and efficient tool to help downscaling GCM projections over West Africa, and thus assessing issues such as water resources vulnerability locally.

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