Soil-vegetation-atmosphere interactions in the West African monsoon / Interactions entre le sol, la végétation et l'atmosphère dans la mousson ouest-africaine
The climate of West Africa is characterised by a monsoonal system that brings rainfall onto the subcontinent during an annual rainy season. From the late 60's to the mid-90's, rainfall levels significantly below average were observed, which brought severe socio-economic implications. The causes of the uncharacteristically long drought period, and indeed the mechanisms underpinning West African climate were poorly understood at the time, but have since attracted growing attention from the scientific community. Amongst the factors identified as critical is the interaction between the Earth surface and the atmosphere. To investigate these interactions over West Africa we have adopted an approach based upon regional climate modelling, an internationally recognised discipline enabling the representation of past and future climates, and the study of specific meteorological mechanisms. Using the regional climate model MAR, we have carried out simulations of the West African climate for the years 1986, 1987, and 1988. To improve the accuracy with which the model represents the biosphere, a new dataset describing the local vegetation was incorporated and a new scheme for the representation of roots implemented. A measure of the internal variability inherent to all results produced with this, and other such models, was determined. Subsequently, the influence of soil moisture anomalies on the model behaviour was investigated. The latest version of the model was validated by comparing it to observational data for selected years. Our results have prooven the ability of the improved MAR to simulate the West African climate, its monsoon and its spatial and temporal behaviour and provide strong evidence of its suitability for further investigation of the surface-atmosphere interactions over West Africa.
School:Université catholique de Louvain
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:west africa précipitations modèle climatique régional biosphere monsoon climatologie regional climate model climatology rainfall afrique de l ouest mousson biosphère
Date of Publication:09/04/2007