26 Apr 2023
 | 26 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Impact of the Guinea Coast upwelling on atmospheric dynamics, precipitation and pollutant transport over Southern West Africa

Gaëlle de Coëtlogon, Adrien Deroubaix, Cyrille Flamant, Laurent Menut, and Marco Gaetani

Abstract. In West Africa, the zonal band of precipitation is generally located around the southern coast in June before migrating northward towards the Sahel in late June / early July. This gives way to a relative dry season for coastal regions from Côte d’Ivoire to Benin called "little dry season" which lasts until September–October. Previous studies have noted that the coastal rainfall cessation in early July seems to coincide with the emergence of an upwelling along the Guinea coast: the aim of this study is to investigate the mechanisms by which this upwelling would have an impact on precipitation, using a set of numerical simulations performed with the regional atmospheric model Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF v 3.7.1,). Sensitivity experiments highlight the response of the atmospheric circulation to an intensification, or conversely a reduction, of the strength of the coastal upwelling: they clearly show that the coastal upwelling emergence is responsible for the cessation of coastal precipitation by weakening the northward humidity transport, thus decreasing the coastal convergence of the humidity transport and inhibiting the deep atmospheric convection. In addition, the diurnal cycle of the low-level circulation plays a critical role: since the land breeze controls the seaward convergence of diurnal anomaly of humidity transport, explaining the late night / early morning peak observed in coastal precipitation, the emergence of the coastal upwelling strongly attenuates this peak because of a reduced land-sea temperature gradient in the night and a weaker land breeze. The impact on the inland transport of anthropogenic pollution is also shown with numerical simulations of aerosols with the CHIMERE chemistry-transport model: warmer (colder) SSTs increase (decrease) the inland transport of pollutants, especially during the night, suggesting an influence of the upwelling intensity on the coastal low-level jet. Important considerations for inland humidity transport and the predictability of the West African Monsoon precipitation in summer may arise from this work and motivate further research.

Gaëlle de Coëtlogon et al.

Status: open (until 22 Jun 2023)

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Gaëlle de Coëtlogon et al.

Gaëlle de Coëtlogon et al.


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Short summary
We test the hypothesis that sea temperature cooling along the southern coast of West Africa (coastal upwelling) plays an active role in the July rainfall cessation, using a numerical atmospheric model where the upwelling is dampened or intensified. The results clearly indicate that the upwelling strongly inhibits precipitation and reduces the transport of moisture and pollutants inland, which could contribute significantly to improving synoptic and seasonal forecasts in West Africa.