Intensification of the hydrological cycle expected in West Africa over the 21st century

Todzo, Stella; Bichet, Adeline; Diedhiou, Arona

This study uses the high-resolution outputs of the recent CORDEX-Africa climate projections to investigate the future changes in different aspects of the hydrological cycle over West Africa. Over the twenty-first century, temperatures in West Africa are expected to increase at a faster rate (inline-formula+0.5inline-formulaC per decade) than the global average (inline-formula+0.3inline-formulaC per decade), and mean precipitation is expected to increase over the Guinea Coast (inline-formula+0.03 mm dinline-formula−1 per decade) but decrease over the Sahel (inline-formula−0.005 mm dinline-formula−1 per decade). In addition, precipitation is expected to become more intense (inline-formula+0.2 mm dinline-formula−1 per decade) and less frequent (inline-formula−1.5 d per decade) over all of West Africa as a result of increasing regional temperature (precipitation intensity increases on average by inline-formula+0.35 mm dinline-formula−1inline-formulaCinline-formula−1 and precipitation frequency decreases on average by inline-formula−2.2 d inline-formulaCinline-formula−1). Over the Sahel, the average length of dry spells is also expected to increase with temperature (inline-formula+4 % d inline-formulaCinline-formula−1), which increases the likelihood for droughts with warming in this subregion. Hence, the hydrological cycle is expected to increase throughout the twenty-first century over all of West Africa, on average by inline-formula+11 % inline-formulaCinline-formula−1 over the Sahel as a result of increasing precipitation intensity and lengthening of dry spells, and on average by inline-formula+3 % inline-formulaCinline-formula−1 over the Guinea Coast as a result of increasing precipitation intensity only.

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Todzo, Stella / Bichet, Adeline / Diedhiou, Arona: Intensification of the hydrological cycle expected in West Africa over the 21st century. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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