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International Journal of Geophysics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 981649, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/981649
Research Article

On the Fine-Scale Topography Regulating Changes in Atmospheric Hydrological Cycle and Extreme Rainfall over West Africa in a Regional Climate Model Projections

1Laboratory for Atmospheric Physics-Simeon Fongang (LPASF), Polytechnic School, Cheikh Anta Diop University, P.O. Box 5085, Dakar-Fann, Senegal
2Earth System Physics Section, International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), 34151 Trieste, Italy
3Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Washington, DC 20059, USA

Received 27 April 2011; Revised 27 October 2011; Accepted 5 November 2011

Academic Editor: Alessandra Giannini

Copyright © 2012 M. B. Sylla et al. 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

The ICTP-RegCM3 is used to downscale at 40 km projections from ECHAM5 over West Africa during the mid and late 21st Century. The results show that while ECHAM5 projects wetter climate along the Gulf of Guinea and drier conditions along the Sahel, RegCM3 produces contrasting changes for low-elevation (negative) and high-elevation (positive) terrains more marked during the second period. These wetter conditions in the uplands result from an intensification of the atmospheric hydrological cycle arising as a consequence of more frequent and denser rainy days and leading to larger intensity and more extreme events. Examination of the large-scale dynamics reveal that these conditions are mostly driven by increased low-level moisture convergence which produces elevated vertical motion above Cameroun’s mountainous areas favoring more atmospheric instability, moisture, and rainfall. This regulation of climate change signal by high-elevation terrains is feasible only in RegCM3 as the driving ECHAM5 is smoothing along all the Gulf of Guinea. This consolidates the need to use regional climate model to investigate the regional and local response of the hydrological cycle, the daily rainfall and extreme events to the increasing anthropogenic GHG warming for suitable impact studies specifically over region with complex topography such as West Africa.