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International Journal of Geophysics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 597205, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/597205
Research Article

Changes in Precipitation Seasonality in West Africa Predicted by RegCM3 and the Impact of Dynamic Vegetation Feedback

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, 261 Glenbrook Road, Storrs, CT 06269, USA

Received 5 May 2011; Accepted 26 September 2011

Academic Editor: Andrea Sealy

Copyright © 2012 Guiling Wang and Clement A. Alo. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Using a regional climate model asynchronously coupled to a dynamic vegetation model, this study examines future climate predictions for the West Africa region and how dynamic vegetation feedback may influence such predictions. Without accounting for the impact of vegetation dynamics, the model predicts a future decrease of annual rainfall over Sahel. Dynamic vegetation feedback reverses this trend, leading to a substantial increase of annual rainfall. Regardless of how vegetation is treated, the predicted future trend of precipitation in the Sahel region follows a specific seasonal pattern, with a decrease during the pre- and early-monsoon season (May-June and early July) due to the warming-induced enhancement of spring convective barrier and an increase after the monsoon is fully established (typically in July-August-September) due to enhanced moisture import from a warmer ocean. Dynamic vegetation feedback reduces the magnitude of the predicted rainfall reduction in the early season and increases the magnitude of the predicted rainfall increase later in the rainy season. The future decrease of early-season rainfall has significant agronomic implications.