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The Influence of Pacific SST Variability on the Precipitation over Southern Africa

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  • 1 Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc., Calverton, Maryland
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Abstract

This study is an analysis of AGCM model results to understand the dynamics of the response of precipitation over southern Africa (SA) to anomalies in the sea surface temperature (SST) over the Pacific Ocean. The pattern of interannual precipitation anomaly over SA and its temporal variations are quite similar in both the ensemble mean of the control (where AGCM is forced with observed SSTs in all ocean basins) and experimental runs (where AGCM is forced with seasonally varying climatological SST over the Pacific Ocean). However, the amplitude of the variability is found to be relatively reduced in the experimental runs. This is shown to be a result of the modulation of the Walker circulation by the variability of Pacific Ocean SST. The regional teleconnection pattern between the dominant mode of SA precipitation variability and SST anomalies over the eastern Indian Ocean is also influenced by the variations in Pacific SST. The nature of the teleconnection between SA precipitation and eastern Indian SST is apparent only when the Pacific SST variability is excluded. This is corroborated from observations as well.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Vasubandhu Misra, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute for Global Environment and Society, Inc., 4041 Powder Mill Road, Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705. Email: misra@cola.iges.org

Abstract

This study is an analysis of AGCM model results to understand the dynamics of the response of precipitation over southern Africa (SA) to anomalies in the sea surface temperature (SST) over the Pacific Ocean. The pattern of interannual precipitation anomaly over SA and its temporal variations are quite similar in both the ensemble mean of the control (where AGCM is forced with observed SSTs in all ocean basins) and experimental runs (where AGCM is forced with seasonally varying climatological SST over the Pacific Ocean). However, the amplitude of the variability is found to be relatively reduced in the experimental runs. This is shown to be a result of the modulation of the Walker circulation by the variability of Pacific Ocean SST. The regional teleconnection pattern between the dominant mode of SA precipitation variability and SST anomalies over the eastern Indian Ocean is also influenced by the variations in Pacific SST. The nature of the teleconnection between SA precipitation and eastern Indian SST is apparent only when the Pacific SST variability is excluded. This is corroborated from observations as well.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Vasubandhu Misra, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute for Global Environment and Society, Inc., 4041 Powder Mill Road, Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705. Email: misra@cola.iges.org

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