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Understanding Sahel Rainfall Variability: Progress and Challenges Michela Biasutti in collaboration with Alessandra Giannini.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Sahel Rainfall Variability: Progress and Challenges Michela Biasutti in collaboration with Alessandra Giannini."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Sahel Rainfall Variability: Progress and Challenges Michela Biasutti in collaboration with Alessandra Giannini (IRI) and with input from Isaac Held (GFDL) and Adam Sobel (CU)

2 Sahel

3 The Sahel drought: Historical hypotheses Local forcing: (anthropogenic) deforestation and desertification cause enhanced albedo and subsidence. Remote forcing: Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies change the tropical circulation and rainfall. From JISAO’s website (T. Mitchell)

4 The case for SST: 1. statistical association with African summer rainfall Giannini et al., 2003, 2005 EOF1: Sahel rainfall Associated SST

5 The case for SST: 2. AGCMs forced with the historical SST reproduce the African summer rainfall modes Giannini et al., 2003, 2005 obs NSIPP amip ensemble

6 The role of land surface processes: from forcing to feedback Observations: - vegetation follows rain - albedo changes unclear Model simulations: interactive surface processes and vegetation contribute to the strength and life span of rainfall anomalies. Nicholson et al, 1998; Zeng et al QTCM

7 Current questions and challenges: Is the long-term Sahel rainfall change (and associated SST variations) of natural or anthropogenic origin? Are the Sahel drought and SST anomalies reproduced in unforced runs? In runs forced with natural forcings? In runs forced by anthropogenic forcings? How will Sahel rainfall change in the greenhouse future?

8 NASA/GISS all XX runs 20 th Century (XX) Simulations GCMs

9 19 Coupled GCMs :GCMs Sahel XX-PI Rainfall Change

10 19 Coupled GCM : XX-PI Rainfall Change

11 19 Coupled GCM : XX-PI SST Change

12 19 Coupled GCM : XX-PI SST Change OBSERVED XX( )-PI( ) Kaplan (LDEO) XX( )-PI( ) Reynolds (NASA/GISS)

13  (q’V): Uniform warming  rich get richer, poor get poorer.  (qV’): Warmer over land  deeper thermal low  stronger monsoons. Change in MOC  SST-induced change in surface wind. ∂  /∂p : Warmer underneath deep convective regions  warmer Troposphere  “upped ante”  margins get dryer. Warmer Indian Ocean  more rain there  more subsidence over Northern Africa. What are the mechanisms of SST influence on Sahel rainfall? What do we expect from GHGs?

14 rich get richer poor get poorer? margins get dryer? thermal low deeper? (wrong sign!) India causes subsidence? (wrong sign!) XX-PI …is it really GHG?

15 Sahel Rainfall Change due to GHG 16 Coupled GCM, 4x and A1B simulation  A1B-XX  A1B-PI  )-PI  )-PI

16 The response to GHG 4x(yrs50:70)-PI Mean Rainfall Change Robustness of Rainfall Change Surface Temperature

17 Widespread warming (GHG) of the remote tropics (Indian, Pacific) warms the tropical troposphere and ups the ante for convection… the gradient in Atlantic warming (SO 2  4 ) causes dry advection [  (qV’)] and prevents the Sahel from meeting the upped ante. Proposed mechanism for XX-PI Sahel rainfall changes

18 NASA/GISS analysis of surface temp – linear trend Hansen et al (J. Geophys. Res.) regression of NASA/NSIPP1 Sahel PC and sfc temp Giannini et al. 2003, 2005 Widespread tropical warming related to drought

19 Lu and Delworth, in press (Geophys. Res. Lett.) Role of Indian and Pacific

20 Widespread warming (GHG) of the remote Tropics (Indian, Pacific) warms the tropical troposphere and ups the ante for convection… the gradient in Atlantic warming (SO 2  4 ) causes dry advection [  (qV’)] and prevents the Sahel from meeting the upped ante. Proposed mechanism for XX-PI Sahel rainfall changes

21 19 Coupled GCM : XX-PI Z 1000 Change

22 OBSERVED Kaplan SLP Change XX( ) -PI( ) OBSERVED Hadley SLP Change XX( )-PI( ) 19 Coupled GCM : XX-PI Z 1000 Change

23 Widespread warming (GHG) of the remote tropics (Indian, Pacific) warms the tropical troposphere and ups the moisture ante for convection… the gradient in Atlantic warming (SO 2  4 ) causes dry advection [  (qV’)] and prevents the Sahel from meeting the upped ante. Proposed mechanism for XX-PI Sahel rainfall changes

24 NASA/GISS Natural or Anthropogenic?

25

26 Bragazza et al., Climate Dynamics 2004 NH/SH Temperature Gradient: Trend natural forcings Natural or Anthropogenic?

27 NASA/GISS SULFATE AEROSOL FORCINGS ( ) Temp RESPONSE to SULFATE AEROSOL

28 Forced Signal vs. Internal Noise

29 The observed African rainfall variability is forced by global SST anomalies (likely reddened and amplified by land processes). XX-PI drying of the Sahel is reproduced by all IPCC AR4 models  it is (partly) anthropogenic! (But the trend isn’t: partly due to the MOC?) The robust signal is coming from the sulfate aerosol forcing: a gradient in the Atlantic SST affects the moisture flow into the Sahel. The response to GHG increase alone is model-dependent.

30 Courtesy of Isaac Held, Jian Lu, Tom Delworth et al, GFDL XXI century outlook for Sahel precipitation

31 Will the rich get richer? Yes, unless the indirect effects of aerosol win ( Liepert et al., 2004 ). Does land behave like ocean? Will RH change? How does land equilibrate to warmer tropospheric temperatures? Other wild cards: do we trust the “El Nino”-like response of these models? Are missing feedbacks important? The remaining questions:

32 Understanding Sahel Rainfall Variability: Progress and Challenges Michela Biasutti in collaboration with Alessandra Giannini (IRI) and with input from Isaac Held (GFDL) and Adam Sobel (CU)

33 Observed SST anomalies due to the Pinatubo Eruption Robock, Rev. Geophys., 2000 Natural or Anthropogenic? Composite of Volcanic Years ( period) in Models with Volcanism

34 19 Coupled GCM forced with XX Century Forcings (CO 2, sulfate aerosols, maybe more…): Sahel Rainfall Trend

35 1 Coupled GCM forced with XX Century Forcings (CO 2, aerosols, solar variability and volcanic activity): standardized Sahel prcp anomalies observed & GFDL CM2.0 I. M. Held, T. L. Delworth, J. Lu, K. Findell, and T. R. Knutson, submitted to Nature

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38 Simulated regression between African rainfall and SST

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41 ______________________________ sunvolc.aeros. ______________________________ NNS(D) N?N?S(D) YY OC,BC,S(D) NNS(D) YY OC,BC,S(D,I) NNS(D?) YYS(D?,I) YY OC,BC,S(D,I) NNS(D,I1) YY S(D) YYBC,S(D) YY S(D) NNS(D,I) NN? Lau et al., 2005 back


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