African Precipitation and Climate Change

Abstract: Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to global warming due to its high exposure and low adaptive capacity. Agriculture in Africa, which is the most significant economic activity of the region, is primarily rainfed therefore the agricultural productivity in the northwestern and southeastern Africa mainly depend on West African Monsoon and Southern African monsoon, the change and variability of which can have a devastating socioeconomic impact on the local population, especially since the region lacks sufficient irrigation infrastructure. Both these Monsoon systems involve the interaction of multi-scale processes ranging from planetary to cumulus scales, which makes it challenging for conventional coarse resolution General Circulation Models to simulate the entire spatial-temporal spectrum of important physical mechanisms accurately. We use a high-resolution global Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCM) HiRAM with ~25-km horizontal grid spacing, to analyze the effect of global warming on the two African Monsoon systems. Our results demonstrate the enormous potential of the high-resolution global AGCM to quantify regional African climate variability and change. HiRAM improves the simulation of African Monsoons at present climate conditions when compared with coarse resolution GCMs and provides more confidence in their future projections. Our result indicates a drier Sahel and increased rainfall over the Guinean coast by the end of the 21st century.

Bio: Jerry Raj is a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth Science and Engineering program. Before joining KAUST, she graduated from Cochin University of Science and Technology, India with an M.Sc in Meteorology. Her research focus is on detailed analysis of complex regional climate processes that govern the climate variability and change in the Middle East and the African continent.