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Climatology, annual cycle and interannual variability of precipitation and temperature in CORDEX simulations over West Africa



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 34, Issue 12, 3479, Article first published online: 4 September 2014


We examine the ability of an ensemble of 10 Regional Climate Models (RCMs), driven by ERA-Interim reanalysis, in skillfully reproducing key features of present-day precipitation and temperature (1990–2008) over West Africa. We explore a wide range of time scales spanning seasonal climatologies, annual cycles and interannual variability, and a number of spatial scales covering the Sahel, the Gulf of Guinea and the entire West Africa. We find that the RCMs show acceptable performance in simulating the spatial distribution of the main precipitation and temperature features. The occurrence of the West African Monsoon jump, the intensification and northward shift of the Saharan Heat Low (SHL), during the course of the year, are shown to be realistic in most RCMs. They also capture the mean annual cycle of precipitation and temperature, including, single and double-peaked rainy seasons, in terms of timing and amplitude over the homogeneous sub-regions. However, we should emphasize that the RCMs exhibit some biases, which vary considerably in both magnitude and spatial extent from model to model. The interannual variability of seasonal anomalies is best reproduced in temperature rather than precipitation. The ensemble mean considerably improves the skill of most of the individual RCMs. This highlights the importance of performing multi-model assessment in properly estimating the response of the West African climate to global warming at seasonal, annual and interannual time scales.

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