Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Biosphere feedback on regional climate in tropical north Africa

Abstract

The impact of land-surface degradation over the Sahel area on seasonal variations of atmospheric and hydrological components over tropical north Africa are investigated in a general-circulation model numerical experiment, together with the mechanisms involved. The model was integrated for four years with and without vegetation change over the Sahel region with different initial atmospheric conditions. The results demonstrate that the degradation of the land surface can have a significant impact on the Sahelian regional climate. It increases the surface air temperature and reduces the precipitation, runoff and soil moisture over the Sahel region during the July-August-September (JAS) season. The impact is not only limited to the specified desertification area and the JAS season but is found also to the south of this area and extends into the October-November-December season. The changes in the annual rainfall cycle and the JAS mean surface temperature over the Sahel area are consistent with the observed climate anomalies of the past 40 years. The changes in rainfall to the south of the Sahel including eastern Africa are also in line with the observed anomalies. The reduction in total diabatic heating rate and relative increase in subsidence motion in the upper troposphere are consistent with the rainfall anomalies. The variations in convective heating rate, which were caused by changes in latent-heat flux from the land surface and moisture flux convergence in the atmosphere, are the dominating factors in this process. The radiative cooling is a secondary effect. The influence of the initial conditions on the simulation of the soil water balance is also analysed.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View