Advances in the study of sub-saharan drought


  • Leonard M. Druyan

    1. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, 10025, U.S.A.
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    • Senior Research Associate, National Research Council, US National Academy of Sciences.


The scientific community has responded to the protracted sub-Saharan drought with a variety of research projects and publications. Related research has dealt with the spatial or temporal analysis of rainfall anomalies, the local or distant atmospheric circulation characteristics that precede or accompany the anomalies, or the influence via teleconnections of remote sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies on Sahel precipitation. General circulation models (GCM) have been profitably utilized to test several hypotheses related to sub-Saharan drought, including the impact of changed albedo, surface roughness, surface evapotranspiration, and SST. This article reviews a selection of the relevant literature and offers an integrated discussion of research results. Conclusions indicate that certain ocean-atmosphere climate systems combine to deprive the sub-Sahara of the moisture required for copious monsoon rains during some drought years, while during others, atmospheric dynamics over North Africa limit the number or intensity of the wave disturbances that initiate the moist convection associated with much of that region's summertime rainfall.