Department of Environmental Sciences

Department of Environmental Sciences







Back To:
Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  ASSESSING RECENT PATTERNS OF VARIABILITY, TREND AND SEASONAL PREDICTABILITY IN WEST AND NORTH AFRICA
Neil Ward
formerly of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University

The recent upturn in Sahel rainfall (approximately 1994-present, relative to 1970-1993) is studied in terms of space-time structure, ocean-atmosphere system linkages, and evolving interannual predictability. Results are compared and contrasted with patterns found throughout the 20th Century. The nature of the multidecadal climate fluctuations is also discussed in terms of changes in the frequency of extreme seasonal rainfall totals, highlighting the role of fluctuations in mean, magnitude of interannual variation (standard deviation) and distribution shape.

In contrast to the Sahel region of West Africa, relatively few studies have focused on the North Africa region (here defined as 20N to the Mediterranean coast, 35E to the Atlantic coast). Ongoing diagnostic seasonal predictability studies for precipitation and land surface temperature are reported. Targeted opportunities for prediction emerge, including through regional sea-surface temperature anomalies. On the low-frequency timescale, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is discussed in relation to recent climate trends in both North Africa and the Sahel. Some of the findings presented have significant implications for the management of climate risks across the region.


Last updated: 10/19/2012