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The Drying Out of Soil Moisture following Rainfall in a Numerical Weather Prediction Model and Implications for Malaria Prediction in West Africa

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  • 1 Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, and School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • | 2 School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • | 3 Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
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Abstract

This paper investigates the response of the land surface and the lowest section of the atmospheric surface layer to rainfall events and through the subsequent drying out period. The impacts of these sequences of rainfall and drying events in controlling near-surface temperatures are put into the context of malaria transmission modeling using temperature controls on the survivability of mosquitoes that are developing the malaria parasite. Observations using measurements from a dwelling hut, constructed to a local design at Wankama near Niamey, Niger, show that as the atmosphere gets moister and colder following rainfall, there is a potentially higher risk of malaria transmission during the rainy days. As the atmosphere gets warmer and drier during the drying period, there is a potentially decreasing rate of malaria transmission as the increasing temperature reduces the survivability of the mosquitoes. A numerical weather prediction model comparison shows that the high-resolution limited-area model outperforms the global-scale model and shows good agreement with the observations. Statistical analysis from the model results confirms that the findings are not restricted to a single location or single time of the day. It was also found that air temperatures over forest areas do not change as much during the study period, since the longer memory of the soil moisture means there is relatively little influence from single rainfall events.

Corresponding author address: Andy Morse, Dept. of Geography, University of Liverpool, Roxby Bldg., Liverpool L69 7ZT, United Kingdom. Email: a.p.morse@liverpool.ac.uk

This article included in the West African Weather Prediction and Predictability special collection.

Abstract

This paper investigates the response of the land surface and the lowest section of the atmospheric surface layer to rainfall events and through the subsequent drying out period. The impacts of these sequences of rainfall and drying events in controlling near-surface temperatures are put into the context of malaria transmission modeling using temperature controls on the survivability of mosquitoes that are developing the malaria parasite. Observations using measurements from a dwelling hut, constructed to a local design at Wankama near Niamey, Niger, show that as the atmosphere gets moister and colder following rainfall, there is a potentially higher risk of malaria transmission during the rainy days. As the atmosphere gets warmer and drier during the drying period, there is a potentially decreasing rate of malaria transmission as the increasing temperature reduces the survivability of the mosquitoes. A numerical weather prediction model comparison shows that the high-resolution limited-area model outperforms the global-scale model and shows good agreement with the observations. Statistical analysis from the model results confirms that the findings are not restricted to a single location or single time of the day. It was also found that air temperatures over forest areas do not change as much during the study period, since the longer memory of the soil moisture means there is relatively little influence from single rainfall events.

Corresponding author address: Andy Morse, Dept. of Geography, University of Liverpool, Roxby Bldg., Liverpool L69 7ZT, United Kingdom. Email: a.p.morse@liverpool.ac.uk

This article included in the West African Weather Prediction and Predictability special collection.

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