NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Variability and Predictability of West African Droughts. A Review in the Role of Sea Surface Temperature AnomaliesThe 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.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Rodriguez-Fonseca, Belen
(Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain)
Mohino, Elsa
(Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain)
Mechoso, Carlos R.
(California Univ. Los Angeles, CA, United States)
Caminade, Cyril
(Liverpool Univ. United Kingdom)
Biasutti, Michela
(Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, NY, United States)
Gaetani, Marco
(Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Rome, Italy)
Garcia-Serrano, J.
(Barcelona Univ. Spain)
Vizy, Edward K.
(Texas State Univ. Austin, TX, United States)
Cook, Kerry
(Texas State Univ. Austin, TX, United States)
Xue, Yongkang
(California Univ. Los Angeles, CA, United States)
Polo, Irene
(Reading Univ. United Kingdom)
Losada, Teresa
(Castilla-La Mancha Univ. Toledo, Spain)
Druyan, Leonard M.
(Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Fontaine, Bernard
(Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Dijon, France)
Bader, Juergen
(Max-Planck-Inst. fuer Meteorologie Hamburg, Germany)
Doblas-Reyes, Francisco J.
(Barcelona Univ. Spain)
Goddard, Lisa
(Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Janicot, Serge
(Paris VI Univ. France)
Arribas, Alberto
(MET Office (Meteorological Office) Exeter, United Kingdom)
Lau, William
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Colman, Andrew
(MET Office (Meteorological Office) Exeter, United Kingdom)
Vellinga, M.
(MET Office (Meteorological Office) Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rowell, David P.
(MET Office (Meteorological Office) Exeter, United Kingdom)
Kucharski, Fred
(Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics Trieste, Italy)
Voldoire, Aurore
(Centre National de Recherches Meteorologiques Toulouse, France)
Date Acquired
March 22, 2016
Publication Date
May 15, 2015
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Climate
Volume: 28
Issue: 10
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
West Africa
Sea surface temperature

Available Downloads

There are no available downloads for this record.
No Preview Available