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Journal Article: BibTeX citation key:  Janicot2001
Janicot, S., Trzaska, S. & Poccard-Leclercq, I. (2001) Summer Sahel-ENSO teleconnection and decadal time scale SST variations. IN Climate Dynamics, 18. 303–320.
Added by: Serge Janicot 2008-12-12 14:50:14    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre 2010-11-18 11:12:24
Categories: Monsoon system and its variability
Keywords: Interannual variability
Creators: Janicot, Poccard-Leclercq, Trzaska
Collection: Climate Dynamics
Bibliographies: Prior150410

Peer reviewed
Number of views:  1229
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The correlation between Sahel rainfall and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the northern summer has been varying for the last fifty years. We propose that the existence of periods of weak or strong relationship could result from an interaction with the global decadal scale sea surface temperature (SST) background. The main modes of SST variability have been extracted through a principal component analysis with Varimax rotation. The correlations between a July-September Sahel rainfall index and these SST modes have been computed on a 20-year running window between 1945 and 1993. The correlations with the interannual ENSO-SST mode are negative, not significant in the 1960s during the transition period from the wet climate phasis to the long-running drought in the Sahel, but then were significant since 1976. During the former period, the correlations between the Sahel rainfall index and the other SST modes (expressing mostly on quasi and multi-decadal scales) are the highest, in particular correlations with the tropical Atlantic “dipole”. Correlations between Sahel and Guinea Coast rainfall are also significantly negative. After 1970, the Sahel-Guinea Coast rainfall correlations are no longer significant, and the ENSO-SST mode becomes the only one significantly correlated with Sahel rainfall, especially due to the impact of warm events. The partial correlations between the ENSO-SST mode and the Sahel rainfall index, when the influence of the other SST modes are eliminated, are significant over all the 20-year running periods between 1945 and 1993, suggesting that this summer teleconnection could be modulated by the decadal scale SST background. The NCEP/NCAR reanalyses reproduce accurately the interannual variability of the atmospheric circulation after 1968. In particular a regional West African Monsoon Index (WAMI), combining wind speed anomalies at 925 and 200 hPa, is highly correlated with the July-September Sahel rainfall index. A warm ENSO event is associated both with an eastward mean sea level pressure gradient between the eastern tropical Pacific and the tropical Atlantic and with a northward pressure gradient along the western coast of West Africa. This pattern leads to enhanced trade winds over the tropical Atlantic and to weaker moisture advection over West Africa, consistent with a weaker monsoon system strength and a weaker Southern Hemisphere Hadley circulation. The NCEP/NCAR reanalyses do not reproduce accurately the decadal variability of the atmospheric circulation over West Africa because of artifical biases. Therefore the impact of the decadal scale pattern of the atmospheric circulation has been investigated with atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) sensitivity experiments, by forcing the ARPEGE-Climat model with different combinations of an El Niño-like SST pattern with the pattern of the main mode of decadal scale SST variability where the hightest weights are located in the Pacific and Indian basins. AGCM outputs show that the decadal scale SST variations weakly affect Sahel rainfall variability but that they do induce an indirect effect on Sahel rainfall by enhancing the impact of the warm ENSO phases after 1980, through an increase in the fill-in of the monsoon trough and a moisture advection deficit over West Africa.
Added by: Fanny Lefebvre    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre