As a step toward an increased understanding of climate change over West Africa, in this paper we analyze the relationship between rainfall changes and monsoon dynamics in high-resolution regional climate model experiments performed using the Regional Climate Model (RegCM3). Multidecadal simulations are carried out for present-day and future climate conditions under increased greenhouse gas forcing driven by the global climate model European Center/Hamburg 5 (ECHAM5). Compared to the present day, the future scenario simulation produces drier conditions over the Sahel and wetter conditions over orographic areas. The Sahel drying is accompanied by a weaker monsoon flow, a southward migration and strengthening of the African Easterly Jet, a weakening of the Tropical Easterly Jet, a decrease of the deep core of ascent between the jets, and reduced African Easterly Wave activity. These circulation changes are characteristics of dry periods over the Sahel and are similar to the conditions found in the late twentieth century observed drought over the region. Changes in extreme events suggest that the drier conditions over the Sahel are associated with more frequent occurrences of drought periods. The projected drought over the Sahel is thus physically consistent with changes in the monsoon circulation and the extreme indices (maximum dry spell length and 5 day precipitation).
Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
Sylla, M. B., A. T. Gaye, G. S. Jenkins, J. S. Pal, and F. Giorgi (2010), Consistency of projected drought over the Sahel with changes in the monsoon circulation and extremes in a regional climate model projections, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D16108, doi:10.1029/2009JD012983.