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  • Lau K.-M., S. Shen, K.-M. Kim and H. Wang, 2006: A Multi-model Study of the 20th Century Simulations of Sahel Drought from the 1970s to 1990s. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111, D0711, doi:10.1029/2005JD006281.

In this paper, we evaluate the performance of 19 coupled general circulation model (CGCM) in 20th Century simulations of the Sahel during 1970 to 1990ís. Correlation, regression, and cluster analyses are applied to observations and model outputs including Sahel monthly precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture, and sea surface temperature (SST). We find that only eight CGCMs (hit-models) produce a reasonable Sahel drought signal, and seven CGCMs (miss-models) produce excessive rainfall over Sahel during the observed drought period. Even the model with the highest prediction skill of the Sahel drought could only predict the increasing trend of severe drought events but not the beginning and duration of the events. From analyses of the statistical characteristics of the hit- and miss- models, we conclude that a good simulation of the Sahel drought requires a) a strong coupling between Sahel rainfall and Indian Ocean SST, with warm (cold) SST identified with Sahel drought (flood), b) a significant coupling between Sahel rainfall and the Atlantic Ocean SST, with a warm equatorial Atlantic and cold extratropical North Atlantic coexisting with Sahel drought, and vice versa, and c) a robust land-surface feedback with strong sensitivity of precipitation and land evaporation to soil moisture. These three characteristics constitute a sufficient condition for a good simulation of Sahel drought in CGCMs.

Last Updated: 2006-05-26

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