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Béatrice Morel
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Yves Richard
,
Benjamin Bois
, and
Miloud Bessafi

Abstract

Regional climate models (RCMs) should be evaluated with respect to their ability to downscale large-scale climate information to the local scales, which are sometimes strongly modulated by surface conditions. This is the case for La Réunion (southwest Indian Ocean) because of its island context and its complex topography. Large-scale atmospheric configurations such as tropical cyclones (TCs) may have an amplifying effect on local rainfall patterns that only a very high-resolution RCM, forced by the large scales and resolving finescale processes, may simulate properly.

This paper documents the capability of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) RCM to regionalize rainfall variability at very high resolution (680 m) over La Réunion island for daily to seasonal time scales and year-to-year differences. Two contrasted wet seasons (November–April) are selected: 2000–01 (abnormally dry) and 2004–05 (abnormally wet). WRF rainfall is compared to a dense network of rain gauge records interpolated onto the WRF grid through the regression-kriging (RK) technique. RK avoids the point-to-grid comparison issue, but produces imperfect estimates due to sampling, so its quality also needs to be tested.

Seasonal rainfall amounts and contrasts produced by WRF are fairly realistic. At intraseasonal and daily time scales, differences to RK are more sizable. These differences are not easy to interpret in sectors where the rain gauge network is less dense and the quality of RK more uncertain, as over the eastern slopes of Piton de la Fournaise volcano where WRF seems to simulate more realistic rainfall than RK. Finally, the heavy rainfall associated with TC Ando on 6 January 2001, is documented. WRF shows weak disagreements with RK, indicating its capability to regionalize rainfall during extreme events.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Béatrice Morel
,
Christelle Barthe
, and
Olivier Bousquet

Abstract

Ensemble simulations of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Ando (31 December 2000–9 January 2001) are performed over the southwest Indian Ocean using the nonhydrostatic WRF Model. Nested domains centered over the island of La Réunion allow for the simulation of local rainfall amounts associated with TC Ando at very high resolution (680-m grid spacing). The model is forced by and nudged toward ERA-Interim during the first (1–6) day(s) of the TC’s life cycle. The nudging ends at various dates to constrain either the whole life cycle or only parts of it.

As expected, results show weakened member dispersion, as the relaxation lasts longer, with more members producing similar cyclone tracks and intensities. The model shows reasonable skill to simulate local rainfall amounts and distribution, as soon as the simulated TC approaches La Réunion with a realistic distance and azimuth. Strong lower-level wind associated with the TC is forced to ascend over the slopes of the island. The model is able to successfully simulate the extreme daily precipitation amounts (>1200 mm) and their distribution over the highest parts of La Réunion. Nevertheless, smaller-scale features of the rainfall field are less realistic in the simulations. The wind speed and direction upstream of the island are the main drivers of such local uncertainties and errors, and they appear as an important issue to assess the local impacts of the TC over such a complex terrain.

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Clémence Macron
,
Yves Richard
,
Thomas Garot
,
Miloud Bessafi
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Adolphe Ratiarison
, and
Andrianaharimanana Razafindrabe

Abstract

Using daily rain gauge records for Madagascar and nearby islands, this paper investigates rainfall intraseasonal variability at local and regional scales during the austral summer season (November–February), as well as the respective influences of recurrent convective regimes over the southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The results show a general consistency between local-scale rainfall variability in Madagascar and regional-scale features of climate variability. The influence of tropical temperate troughs in their mature phase and/or their easternmost locations is first underlined. The development of such systems over southern Africa and the Mozambique Channel can be considered as precursors for Malagasy wet spells, especially over the southern part of the island. Regional and local effects of the MJO are weaker on average, and only concern the northwest of the island and the north of the Mozambique Channel. MJO and convective regimes are finally shown to explain distinct fractions of regional rainfall variability.

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Shunya Koseki
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Bhuwan Chandra Bhatt
,
Noel Keenlyside
, and
Arielle Stela Nkwinkwa Njouodo

Abstract

Adopting a state-of-the-art numerical model system, we investigate how the diurnal variations in precipitation and local breeze systems are characterized by lower-boundary conditions related to the Drakensberg highland and warm SST associated with the Agulhas Current. A control simulation can simulate the hydrometeorological climates in the region realistically, but the terrestrial rainfall is overestimated. During daytime, the precipitation is confined to the Drakensberg highland, and there is an onshore local breeze, while during midnight to morning, the rainfall is confined to the Agulhas Current, and the breeze is offshore. These variations are captured by the numerical simulation, although the timing of maximum rainfall is early over the land and delayed over the ocean. The sensitivity experiment in which the Drakensberg is absent shows a drastic modification in the diurnal variations over land and ocean. The terrestrial precipitation is largely decreased around the Drakensberg and is largest along the coast during daytime. The nocturnal marine precipitation along the Agulhas Current is also reduced. Although the daily residual breeze is still pronounced even without the Drakensberg, wind speed is weakened. We attribute this to the reduction of precipitation. In another sensitivity experiment with smoothened warm SST due to the Agulhas Current, the amplitudes of diurnal variations are not modified remarkably, but the coastal rainfall is diminished to some extent due to less evaporation along the Agulhas Current. This study concludes that the Drakensberg plays a crucial role for the diurnal cycle, and the impact of the Agulhas Current is limited on the diurnal cycle of the coastal precipitation in this region.

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