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Mimi Stith, Alessandra Giannini, John del Corral, Susana Adamo, and Alex de Sherbinin

1. Introduction a. Definitions of the Sahel The Sahel is a large and multifaceted region of sub-Saharan Africa. The climate and ecology, history, and political organization of Sahelian countries are diverse and dynamic ( Raynaut et al. 1997 ). Historically, scholarly investigations of the Sahel have revolved around three subjects: the ancient kingdoms and trade routes, the legacy of colonialism and the formation of the modern nation state, and the drivers and impacts of the harsh environment

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M. Issa Lélé, Lance M. Leslie, and Peter J. Lamb

.g., Webster 1994 ) and also because the natural variability of weather and climate at both regional and global scales is regulated by the water cycle (e.g., Eltahir and Bras 1996 ). Accordingly, research on water vapor flux and its convergence has both scientific and societal value. The WAM rainfall results from the moisture fluxes originating from many sources during the summer season. Over 80% of the annual precipitation falls during June–September when the intertropical front (ITF) extends farther

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Zewdu T. Segele, Michael B. Richman, Lance M. Leslie, and Peter J. Lamb

prediction if they yield similar forecasts. Moreover, to our knowledge, the methodology of building observational ensembles for statistical prediction is unique. The high-quality local and national prediction capability should have significant beneficial societal implications. In particular, the forecasting of seasonal anomalies at regional and national scales and monthly rainfall totals at specific localities with usable skill could play a key role in risk management to help minimize the damaging

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