Publication Abstracts

Berntell et al.

Berntell, E., Q. Zhang, Q. Li, A.M. Haywood, J.C. Tindall, S.J. Hunter, Z. Zhang, X. Li, C. Guo, K.H. Nisancioglu, C. Stepanek, G. Lohmann, L.E. Sohl, M.A. Chandler, N. Tan, C. Contoux, G. Ramstein, M.L.J. Baatsen, A.S. von der Heydt, D. Chandan, W.R. Peltier, A. Abe-Ouchi, W.-L. Chan, Y. Kamae, C.J.R. Williams, and D. Lunt, : Mid-Pliocene West African monsoon rainfall as simulated in the PlioMIP2 ensemble. Clim. Past, doi:10.5194/cp-2021-16.

The mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP; ∼3.2 million years ago) is seen as the most recent time period characterized by a warm climate state, with similar modern geography and ∼400 ppmv atmospheric CO2 concentration, and is therefore often considered an interesting analogue for near-future climate projections. Paleoenvironmental reconstructions indicate higher surface temperatures, decreasing tropical deserts, and a more humid climate in West Africa characterized by a strengthened West African Monsoon (WAM). Using model results from the second phase of the Pliocene Modelling Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP2) ensemble we analyze changes of the WAM rainfall during the mPWP, by comparing with the control simulations for the pre-industrial period. The ensemble shows a robust increase of the summer rainfall over West Africa and the Sahara region with an average increase of 2.7 mm/day, contrasted by a rainfall decrease over the equatorial Atlantic. An anomalous warming of the Sahara Desert and deepening of the Saharan Heat Low, seen in > 90% of the models, leads to a strengthening of the WAM and an increased monsoonal flow into the continent. A similar warming of the Sahara Desert is seen in future projections using both phase 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5), and though previous studies of future projections indicate a west/east drying/wetting contrast over Sahel, PlioMIP2 simulations indicate a uniform rainfall increase over Sahel in warm climates characterized by increasing greenhouse gas forcing.

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