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Impact of GCM boundary forcing on regional climate modeling of West African summer monsoon precipitation and circulation features

Kebe, Ibourahima, Sylla, Mouhamadou Bamba, Omotosho, Jerome Adebayo, Nikiema, Pinghouinde Michel, Gibba, Peter, Giorgi, Filippo
Climate dynamics 2017 v.48 no.5-6 pp. 1503-1516
climate models, monsoon season, physics, summer, Western Africa
In this study, the latest version of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics Regional Climate Model (RegCM4) driven by three CMIP5 Global Climate Models (GCMs) is used at 25 km grid spacing over West Africa to investigate the impact of lateral boundary forcings on the simulation of monsoon precipitation and its relationship with regional circulation features. We find that the RegCM4 experiments along with their multimodel ensemble generally reproduce the location of the main precipitation characteristics over the region and improve upon the corresponding driving GCMs. However, the provision of different forcing boundary conditions leads to substantially different precipitation magnitudes and spatial patterns. For instance, while RegCM4 nested within GFDL-ESM-2M and HadGEM2-ES exhibits some underestimations of precipitation and an excessively narrow Intertropical Convergence Zone, the MPI-ESM-MR driven run produces precipitation spatial distribution and magnitudes more similar to observations. Such a superior performance originates from a much better simulation of the interactions between baroclinicity, temperature gradient and African Easterly Jet along with an improved connection between the Isentropic Potential Vorticity, its gradient and the African Easterly Waves dynamics. We conclude that a good performing GCM in terms of monsoon dynamical features (in this case MPI-ESM-MR) is needed to drive RCMs in order to achieve a better representation of the West Africa summer monsoon precipitation.