Variability and Predictability of West African Droughts: A Review on the Role of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Type Article
Date 2015-05
Language English
Author(s) Rodriguez-Fonseca BelenORCID1, 2, 3, Mohino ElsaORCID1, Mechoso Carlos R.4, Caminade CyrilORCID5, Biasutti MichelaORCID6, Gaetani MarcoORCID7, Garcia-Serrano J.8, Vizy Edward K.9, Cook Kerry9, Xue Yongkang4, Polo Irene10, Losada TeresaORCID11, Druyan Leonard12, 13, Fontaine Bernard14, Bader Juergen15, Doblas-Reyes Francisco J.8, 16, Goddard Lisa17, Janicot Serge18, Arribas Alberto19, Lau William20, Colman Andrew19, Vellinga M.19, Rowell David P.19, Kucharski Fred21, Voldoire Aurore22
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Complutense Madrid, Fac Ciencias Fis, Dept Fis Tierra Astron & Astrofis 1, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.
2 : CSIC, Inst Geociencias, Madrid, Spain.
3 : Univ Complutense Madrid, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.
4 : Univ Calif Los Angeles, Dept Atmospher & Ocean Sci, Los Angeles, CA USA.
5 : Univ Liverpool, Inst Infect & Global Hlth, Sch Environm Sci, Liverpool L69 3BX, Merseyside, England.
6 : Columbia Univ, Lamont Doherty Earth Observ, New York, NY USA.
7 : CNR, Ist Biometeorol, Rome, Italy.
8 : Inst Catala Ciencies Clima, Barcelona, Spain.
9 : Univ Texas Austin, Jackson Sch Geosci, Dept Geol Sci, Austin, TX USA.
10 : Univ Reading, Dept Meteorol, NCAS Climate, Reading, Berks, England.
11 : Univ Castilla La Mancha, Inst Ciencias Ambientales, Toledo, Spain.
12 : Columbia Univ, Ctr Climate Syst Res, New York, NY USA.
13 : NASA, Goddard Inst Space Studies, New York, NY 10025 USA.
14 : Univ Bourgogne, CNRS, Ctr Rech Climatol, Dijon, France.
15 : Max Planck Inst Meteorol, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany.
16 : Inst Catalana Recerca & Estudis Avancats, Barcelona, Spain.
17 : Columbia Univ, Int Res Inst Climate & Soc, New York, NY USA.
18 : UPMC, LOCEAN IPSL, IRD, Paris, France.
19 : Met Off Hadley Ctr, Exeter, Devon, England.
20 : NASA, Goddard Space Flight Ctr, Atmospheres Lab, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA.
21 : Abdus Salam Int Ctr Theoret Phys, Trieste, Italy.
22 : CNRS, Meteo France, Grp Etud Atmosphere Meteorol, Ctr Natl Rech Meteorol, Toulouse, France.
Source Journal Of Climate (0894-8755) (Amer Meteorological Soc), 2015-05 , Vol. 28 , N. 10 , P. 4034-4060
DOI 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00130.1
WOS© Times Cited 117
Note This article is included in the GDIS Drought Worldwide Special Collection.

The Sahel experienced a severe drought during the 1970s and 1980s after wet periods in the 1950s and 1960s. Although rainfall partially recovered since the 1990s, the drought had devastating impacts on society. Most studies agree that this dry period resulted primarily from remote effects of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies amplified by local land surface-atmosphere interactions. This paper reviews advances made during the last decade to better understand the impact of global SST variability on West African rainfall at interannual to decadal time scales. At interannual time scales, a warming of the equatorial Atlantic and Pacific/Indian Oceans results in rainfall reduction over the Sahel, and positive SST anomalies over the Mediterranean Sea tend to be associated with increased rainfall. At decadal time scales, warming over the tropics leads to drought over the Sahel, whereas warming over the North Atlantic promotes increased rainfall. Prediction systems have evolved from seasonal to decadal forecasting. The agreement among future projections has improved from CMIP3 to CMIP5, with a general tendency for slightly wetter conditions over the central part of the Sahel, drier conditions over the western part, and a delay in the monsoon onset. The role of the Indian Ocean, the stationarity of teleconnections, the determination of the leader ocean basin in driving decadal variability, the anthropogenic role, the reduction of the model rainfall spread, and the improvement of some model components are among the most important remaining questions that continue to be the focus of current international projects.

Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 27 3 MB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

Rodriguez-Fonseca Belen, Mohino Elsa, Mechoso Carlos R., Caminade Cyril, Biasutti Michela, Gaetani Marco, Garcia-Serrano J., Vizy Edward K., Cook Kerry, Xue Yongkang, Polo Irene, Losada Teresa, Druyan Leonard, Fontaine Bernard, Bader Juergen, Doblas-Reyes Francisco J., Goddard Lisa, Janicot Serge, Arribas Alberto, Lau William, Colman Andrew, Vellinga M., Rowell David P., Kucharski Fred, Voldoire Aurore (2015). Variability and Predictability of West African Droughts: A Review on the Role of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. Journal Of Climate, 28(10), 4034-4060. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :