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Climate 2015, 3(2), 365-390; doi:10.3390/cli3020365

Sensitivity of Horn of Africa Rainfall to Regional Sea Surface Temperature Forcing

1
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA
2
School of Meteorology, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA
3
Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 February 2015 / Accepted: 6 May 2015 / Published: 29 May 2015
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Abstract

The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) version 4.4 Regional Climate Model (RegCM4) is used to investigate the rainfall response to cooler/warmer sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) forcing in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The effect of SSTA forcing in a specific ocean basin is identified by ensemble, averaging 10 individual simulations in which a constant or linearly zonally varying SSTA is prescribed in individual basins while specifying the 1971–2000 monthly varying climatological sea surface temperature (SST) across the remaining model domain. The nonlinear rainfall response to SSTA amplitude also is investigated by separately specifying +1K, +2K, and +4K SSTA forcing in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The simulation results show that warm SSTs over the entire Indian Ocean produce drier conditions across the larger Blue Nile catchment, whereas warming ≥ +2K generates large positive rainfall anomalies exceeding 10 mm·day−1 over drought prone regions of Northeastern Ethiopia. However, the June–September rainy season tends to be wetter (drier) when the SST warming (cooling) is limited to either the Northern or Southern Indian Ocean. Wet rainy seasons generally are characterized by deepening of the monsoon trough, east of 40°E, intensification of the Mascarene high, strengthening of the Somali low level jet and the tropical easterly jet, enhanced zonal and meridional vertically integrated moisture fluxes, and steeply vertically decreasing moist static energy. The opposite conditions hold for dry monsoon seasons. View Full-Text
Keywords: African rainfall; Atlantic Ocean warming; drying of the Blue Nile; Ethiopian monsoon; Indian Ocean warming; RegCM4 simulation; SST forcing African rainfall; Atlantic Ocean warming; drying of the Blue Nile; Ethiopian monsoon; Indian Ocean warming; RegCM4 simulation; SST forcing
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Segele, Z.T.; Leslie, L.M.; Tarhule, A.A. Sensitivity of Horn of Africa Rainfall to Regional Sea Surface Temperature Forcing. Climate 2015, 3, 365-390.

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