Development of a Regional Climate Model System for West Africa

The development of reliable strategies for an adapted land management that can cope with climate change in West Africa requires a detailed analysis of the feedback mechanisms between the components of the land surface and the atmosphere. However, the process descriptions of land surface – atmosphere interactions are poorly represented in atmospheric models and state-of-the-art models cannot be used for a suitable feedback analysis. The current land surface schemes in atmospheric models used for the description of the exchange of water and energy between soil, vegetation and atmosphere have at least two shortcomings: 

  1. The information used to describe the land surface is usually time-invariant. But certain features of the land surface such as e.g. the vegetation cover are characterized by a high intra- and inter-annual variability. 
  2. A further weakness is the poor representation of subsurface fluxes. To tackle these problems, the process descriptions of atmospheric models must be refined and have to be specifically adapted to the land surface and atmospheric processes of West Africa. To realize this goal, a high resolution regional climate modeling system for the West African region will be designed in this WP.

This modeling system consists of three main components: 

  1. Data assimilation schemes based on statistical techniques for integrating atmospheric and dynamic land surface information into the modeling system;
  2. A two-way coupled atmospheric-hydrological modeling system using process-based algorithm to describe the majority of processes of the West African climate system; 
  3. Statistical techniques for local refinement and bias correction of the outcomes of the atmospheric-hydrological modeling system.

The primary focus of this Work Package is the establishment of the dynamical component of the regional modeling system and the specific adaptation of the process descriptions of this model to the processes of the West African climate system. The land surface scheme of a state-of-the art regional climate model will be parameterized by dynamic land surface properties derived from enhanced remote sensing technique. It will be also coupled with a distributed process-based hydrological model that allows for a two-way coupling required for feedback analysis. This modeling system will be used to provide high resolution climate information for a recent period. This information is of utmost importance to describe long-term changes of climate variables in the Sudanian Savanna.

A further major task of this Work Package is the installation of climate stations and eddy covariance stations in the focal watersheds. The climate information provided by the stations is crucial for the analysis of the West African climate system, in particular to improve the process understanding of the feedback mechanisms between the atmosphere and the land surface. The climate information plays also a key role for the evaluation of the regional climate modeling system. Furthermore, the regional climate modeling system and the stations will deliver crucial information needed for the field experiments proposed in the Core Research Programme.

Finally, the climate information provided by the modeling system and stations can be used to determine key indicators describing the state of the ecological subsystem in that region and that are needed to assess the resilience of the SES for the watersheds selected in WASCAL. Thus, the development of a regional climate modeling system specifically adapted to the processes of the West African climate system and the installation of climate and eddy covariance stations plays a key role in WASCAL. In the end of the project, a workshop and training course will be given to transfer the outcomes of the proposed research activities to practice and to offer the novel techniques to the members of the Competence Centre and further partners involved in WASCAL.

Related publications

Numerical Simulation of Surface Energy and Water Balances over a Semiarid Grassland Ecosystem in the West African Savanna

2017 - Quansah, Emmanuel | Genki Katata, Matthias Mauder, Thompson Annor, Leonard K. Amekudzi, Jan Bliefernicht, Dominikus Heinzeller, Ahmed A. Balogun, and Harald Kunstmann

Global warming induced hybrid rainy seasons in the Sahel

2016 - Salack, Seyni | Klein, C., Giannini, A., Sarr, B., Worou, O.N., Belko, N., Bliefernicht, J., and Harald Kunstman

Projected robust shift of climate zones over West Africa in response to anthropogenic climate change for the late 21st century

2015 - Sylla, Mouhamadou Bamba | Nellie Elguindi, Filippo Giorgi, and Dominik Wisser

Variability of West African monsoon patterns generated by a WRF multi-physics ensemble

2015 - Klein, Cornelia | Dominikus Heinzeller, Jan Bliefernicht, and Harald Kunstmann

Crop-Climate Ensemble Scenarios to Narrow Uncertainty in Agroclimatic Risks. Assessment on Pearl Millet and Maize in the West African Sudan-Sahel

2015 - Salack, Seyni | Benoit Sarr, Sheick Khalil Sangare, Mouhamed Ly, Ibrah Seidou Sanda, and Harald Kunstmann

Field and simulation experiments for investigating regional land-atmosphere interactions in West Africa: Experimental set-up and first results

2013 - Bliefernlich, Jan | Harald Kunstmann, Luitpold Hingerl, Thomas Rummler, Sabrine Andersen, Matthias Mauder, Rainer Steinbrecher, René Frieß, David Gochis, Ursula Gessner, Emmanuel Quensah, Ayoola Awotuse, Frank Neidl, Carsten Jahn, Boubacar Barry

Contact

Prof. Dr. Harald Kunstmann

Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU),
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 1
82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Germany

E-mail: harald.kunstmann(at)kit.edu
Phone: +49 (0)821 598 - 2751 (Augsburg)
Phone (more): +49 (0)8821 183 - 208 (Garmisch)
Fax: +49 (0)8821 183 - 243

Team members

Dr. Jan Bliefernicht

Position:

  • Junior Researcher

Programs and Research Projects:

  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System

Dr. Daniel Callo-Concha

Position:

  • Senior Researcher

Programs and Research Projects:

  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System
  • 3.3 Farmers' Perceptions & Adaptation Strategies

Dr. Ilse Hamann

Position:

  • Senior Researcher

Research interests:

1.1, Cluster 1: Climate and Weather, Doctoral Program West African Climate System

Programs and Research Projects:

  • Doctoral Programme West African Climate System
  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System

Dr. Dominikus Heinzeller

Position:

  • Senior Researcher

Research interests:

Numerical Modelling, Numerical Weather Prediction, Seasonal Forecasting, Scientific Computing

Programs and Research Projects:

  • Cluster 1: Climate and Weather
  • Doctoral Programme West African Climate System
  • 1.3 Land Surface & Regional Climate
  • 1.2 Seasonal Weather Forecasting
  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System

Prof. Dr. Harald Kunstmann

Position:

  • Senior Researcher

Programs and Research Projects:

  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System
  • 1.2 Seasonal Weather Forecasting

Dr. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla

Position:

  • Senior Researcher
  • Observation Networks Coordinator

Programs and Research Projects:

  • 1.1 Regional Climate Model System
  • 1.3 Land Surface & Regional Climate
  • Cluster 1: Climate and Weather