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  • Shongwe, M. E., G. J. van Oldenborgh, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk and M. K. van Aalst, 2009: Projected changes in mean and extreme precipitation in Africa under global warming, Part II: East Africa. J. Climate. Submitted.

Probable changes in mean and extreme precipitation in East Africa are estimated from global climate models (GCMs) prepared for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Bayesian statistics are used to derive the relative weights assigned to each member in the multi-model ensemble. There is substantial evidence in support of a positive shift of the whole rainfall distribution in East Africa during the wet seasons. The models give indications for an increase in mean precipitation rates and intensity of high rainfall events, but less severe droughts. Upward precipitation trends are projected from early this (twenty-first) century.

As in the observations, a statistically significant link between sea-surface temperature (SST) gradients in the tropical Indian Ocean and short-rains (October--December) in East Africa is simulated in the GCMs. Furthermore, most models project a differential warming of the Indian Ocean during boreal autumn. This is favourable for an increase in the probability of positive Indian Ocean zonal mode (IOZM) events, which have been associated with anomalously strong short-rains in East Africa.

On top of the general increase in rainfall in the tropics due to thermodynamic effects, a change in the structure of the Eastern Hemisphere Walker circulation is consistent with an increase in East African precipitation relative to other regions within the same latitudinal belt. A notable feature of this change is a weakening of the climatological subsidence over eastern Kenya.

East Africa is shown to be a region in which a coherent projection of future precipitation change can be made, supported by physical arguments. Although the rate of change is still uncertain, almost all results point to a wetter climate with more intense wet seasons and less severe droughts.

Full Article: http://www.knmi.nl/africa_scenarios/projected_changes_east_africa.pdf

Last Updated: 2009-07-24

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