26 May 2023
 | 26 May 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Impact of AMV on rainfall intensity distribution and timing of the West African Monsoon in DCPP-C-like simulations

Elsa Mohino, Paul-Arthur Monerie, Juliette Mignot, Moussa Diakhaté, Markus Donat, Christopher David Roberts, and Francisco Doblas-Reyes

Abstract. Previous studies agree on an impact of the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV) on total seasonal rainfall amounts over the Sahel. However, whether and how AMV affects the distribution of rainfall or the timing of the West African Monsoon is not well known. Here we analyze daily rainfall outputs from atmosphere-ocean coupled models. Models show dry biases over the Sahel, where the mean intensity is consistently smaller than observations, and wet biases over the Guinea Coast, where they simulate too many rainy days. In addition, most models underestimate the average length of the rainy season over the Sahel, some due to a too late monsoon onset and others due to a too early cessation. In response to a persistent positive AMV pattern imposed in the Atlantic, following a protocol largely consistent with the one proposed by the Component C of the Decadal Climate Prediction Project (DCPP-C), models show an enhancement in total summer rainfall over West African land mass, including the Sahel. Both the number of wet days and the intensity of daily rainfall events are enhanced over the Sahel. The former explains most of the changes in seasonal rainfall in the northern fringe, while the latter is more relevant in the southern region, where higher rainfall anomalies occur. This dominance is connected to the changes in the number of days per type of event: the frequency of both moderate and heavy events increases over the Sahel’s northern fringe. Conversely, over the southern limit, it is mostly the frequency of heavy events which is enhanced, affecting the mean rainfall intensity there. Extreme rainfall events are also enhanced over the whole Sahel in response to a positive phase of the AMV. Models with stronger negative biases in rainfall amounts tend to show weaker changes in response to AMV, suggesting systematic biases could affect the simulated responses. The monsoon onset over the Sahel shows no clear response to AMV, while the demise tends to be delayed and the overall length of the monsoon season enhanced between 2 and 5 days with the positive AMV pattern. The effect of AMV on the seasonality of the monsoon is more consistent to the West of 10º W, with all models showing a statistically significant earlier onset, later demise and enhanced monsoon season with the positive phase of the AMV. Our results suggest a potential for the decadal prediction of changes in the intraseasonal characteristics of rainfall over the Sahel, including the occurrence of extreme events.

Elsa Mohino et al.

Status: open (until 08 Jul 2023)

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Elsa Mohino et al.

Elsa Mohino et al.


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Short summary
The effects of AMV on the distribution of rainfall or the timing of the West African Monsoon is not well known. Through the analysis of atmosphere-ocean coupled model outputs we find that a positive AMV enhances the number of wet days, daily rainfall intensity and extremes over the Sahel, and tends to prolong monsoon length through later demise. Heavy rainfall (moderate) events increase over all (the north of) the Sahel. Model biases affect their skills to simulate the effects of AMV.