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Future changes in seasonality in East Africa from regional simulations with explicit and parameterized convection

Wainwright, Caroline M. ORCID:, Marsham, John H., Powell, David P., Finney, Declan L. and Black, Emily 2021. Future changes in seasonality in East Africa from regional simulations with explicit and parameterized convection. Journal of Climate 34 (4) , pp. 1367-1385. 10.1175/jcli-d-20-0450.1

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The East African precipitation seasonal cycle is of significant societal importance, and yet the current generation of coupled global climate models fails to correctly capture this seasonality. The use of convective parameterization schemes is a known source of precipitation bias in such models. Recently, a high-resolution regional model was used to produce the first pan-African climate change simulation that explicitly models convection. Here, this is compared with a corresponding parameterized-convection simulation to explore the effect of the parameterization on representation of East Africa precipitation seasonality. Both models capture current seasonality, although an overestimate in September–October in the parameterized simulation leads to an early bias in the onset of the boreal autumn short rains, associated with higher convective instability and near-surface moist static energy. This bias is removed in the explicit model. Under future climate change both models show the short rains getting later and wetter. For the boreal spring long rains, the explicit convection simulation shows the onset advancing but the parameterized simulation shows little change. Over Uganda and western Kenya both simulations show rainfall increases in the January–February dry season and large increases in boreal summer and autumn rainfall, particularly in the explicit convection model, changing the shape of the seasonal cycle, with potential for pronounced socioeconomic impacts. Interannual variability is similar in both models. Results imply that parameterization of convection may be a source of uncertainty for projections of changes in seasonal timing from global models and that potentially impactful changes in seasonality should be highlighted to users.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: American Meteorological Society
ISSN: 0894-8755
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 1 October 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 07:41

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