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Atmosphere  2013 

On the Current and Future Dry Spell Characteristics over?Africa

DOI: 10.3390/atmos4030272

Keywords: dry spell characteristics, regional climate model, Africa, climate change

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Abstract:

Changes in precipitation frequency and intensity distribution over Africa will have a direct impact on dry spells and, therefore, will affect various climate sensitive sectors. In this study, the ability of the fifth generation of the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5) in simulating annual and seasonal dry spell characteristics is assessed for four precipitation thresholds (0.5 mm, 1 mm, 2 mm and 3 mm) over Africa. The dry spell characteristics considered are the number of dry days, number of dry spells and five-year return levels of maximum dry spell durations. The performance errors are assessed by comparing ERA-Interim driven CRCM5 with the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) dataset, for the common 1997–2008 period. Lateral boundary forcing errors, i.e., errors in the CRCM5 simulation created by errors in the driving Canadian Earth System model (CanESM2) data—as well as the added value—of CRCM5 over CanESM2 are also assessed for the current climate. This is followed by an assessment of projected changes to dry spell characteristics for two future climates (2041–2070 and 2071–2100) simulated by both CRCM5 driven by CanESM2 and CanESM2 itself, for Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5. Results suggest that CRCM5 driven by ERA-Interim has a tendency to overestimate the annual mean number of dry days and the five-year return level of the maximum dry spell duration in a majority of the regions while it slightly underestimates the number of dry spells. In general, the CRCM5 performance errors associated with the annual and seasonal dry spell characteristics are found to be larger in magnitude compared to the lateral boundary forcing errors. Projected changes to the dry spell characteristics for the 2041–2070 and 2071–2100 periods, with respect to the 1981–2010 period suggests significant changes in the tropics, with the mean number of dry days and the five-year return levels of maximum dry spell duration increasing, while the mean number of dry spell days decreases.

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