Burger
Journalpaper

A multi-model climate response over tropical Africa at +2 °C

Abstract

The impact of a +2 °C global warming on temperature and precipitation over tropical Africa is examined, based on an ensemble of 12 regional climate model scenario simulations. These 12 scenarios are re-phased so that they all correspond to the same global warming of 2 °C with respect to pre-industrial conditions. The continental temperature increase is above the global average. If heat waves are defined with the same temperature threshold in the reference climate and in the scenario, their frequency increases by a factor of 10. When the temperature threshold is adapted to future conditions, there is still a slight increase in frequency. The average precipitation does not show a significant response, due to model-to-model spread. However two compensating phenomena occur, which are robust among the models: (a) the number of rain days decreases whereas the precipitation intensity increases, and (b) the rain season occurs later during the year with less precipitation in early summer and more precipitation in late summer. Simulated daily temperature and precipitation data are combined in two impact models, one for the hydrology of the Nile and Niger basins, one for the food security of the different countries. They show that the main feature of the climate change is not a continuous trend signal, but an alternation of dry and wet decadal to multidecadal episodes.
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