The hydroclimatology of the Niger River basin, located in West Africa, is very complex. It has been widely studied because of its importance to the socioeconomic activities of the countries that share its natural resources. In this study, to better understand the causes and mechanisms that modulate the rainfall over the Niger River basin, we identified the most relevant moisture sources for precipitation within the basin. The Lagrangian model FLEXPART was utilised to track backward trajectories of air parcels initially losing humidity over climatological rainfall zones of the basin. Along 10-day backward trajectories, we computed the budget of the difference between evaporation and precipitation (E − P
) from 1000 to 0.1 hPa, permitting the identification of those regions where moisture uptake ((E − P
) > 0) prevail. The study was conducted for the period 1980–2017. Monthly maps of ((E − P
) > 0 were developed to illustrate the regions from where moisture is transported, contributing to precipitation in the Niger River basin. The spatial variability of the sources matches the precipitation variability over the basin restricted to surrounding areas of the Niger River basin during months with low average precipitation and widely spreading over the continent and the Atlantic Ocean in months with high average precipitation. During climatological dry months (e.g., December, January and February) the continental sources of West and Northeast Africa and the climatological rainfall zones themselves provide most of the moisture for precipitation. However, during the rainy season, the moisture supplies from oceanic sources increase, becoming greater than the contribution from land-based sources during August (the rainiest month). Dry conditions were identified for each climatological rainfall zone using the Standardised Precipitation Index. Similar to many previous studies, we found that the 1980s were highlighted by dry conditions. Local recycling and particularly moisture uptake from the tropical South Atlantic Ocean seem to be highly related to dry and wet conditions in the basin. A reduction on the moisture uptake from surrounding continental sources and the tropical South Atlantic Ocean is almost persistent during extremely dry conditions. Ascending movements are restricted to the lower troposphere during extremely dry conditions and oscillate latitudinally as well as precipitation.
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