Amplification of synoptic to annual variability of West African summer monsoon rainfall under global warming
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionnpj Climate and Atmospheric Science. 2020, 3, 21. 10.1038/s41612-020-0125-1
Increased knowledge of future changes in rainfall variability is needed to reduce vulnerability to potential impacts of global warming, especially in highly vulnerable regions like West Africa. While changes in mean and extreme rainfall have been studied extensively, rainfall variability has received less attention, despite its importance. In this study, future changes in West African summer monsoon (WASM) rainfall variability were investigated using data from two regional climate models that participated in the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX). The daily rainfall data were band-pass filtered to isolate variability at a wide range of timescales. Under global warming, WASM rainfall variability is projected to increase by about 10–28% over the entire region and is remarkably robust over a wide range of timescales. We found that changes in mean rainfall significantly explain the majority of intermodel spread in projected WASM rainfall variability. The role of increased atmospheric moisture is examined by estimating the change due to an idealized local thermodynamic enhancement. Analysis reveals that increased atmospheric moisture with respect to warming following the Clausius–Clapeyron relationship can explain the majority of the projected changes in rainfall variability at all timescales.