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L. J. Mangum
,
S. P. Hayes
, and
L. D. Stratton

Abstract

Moored wind measurements at near-equatorial locations along 110°W, 125°W, 140°W, 170°W, and 165°E are used to investigate the space-time variability of the tropical Pacific wind field. These measurements complement previous studies that relied on island winds in the central Pacific or a few moored measurements in the eastern Pacific. Results indicate that the energetic portion of the zonal and meridional wind is significantly coherent over meridional scales of about 200 km and zonal scales of 1500 km. Even at these separations the estimated coherence often accounts for less than 50% of the variance. Temporal subsampling indicated (in agreement with previous studies) that at least ten samples per month were required to resolve monthly wind speed to within 1 m s−1 in the eastern equatorial Pacific. West of the date line and in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), nearly daily sampling was required. Investigation showed that little error in the daily average of derived quantities such as wind speed and stress was associated with computing these variables from daily vector averages of the wind components rather than from hourly values of the components that were subsequently averaged.

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C. E. Birch
,
L. S. Jackson
,
D. L. Finney
,
J. M. Marsham
,
R. A. Stratton
,
S. Tucker
,
S. Chapman
,
C. A. Senior
,
R. J. Keane
,
F. Guichard
, and
E. J. Kendon

Abstract

The future change in dry and humid heatwaves is assessed in 10-yr pan-African convective-scale (4.5 km) and parameterized convection (25 km) climate model simulations. Compared to reanalysis, the convective-scale simulation is better able to represent humid heatwaves than the parameterized simulation. Model performance for dry heatwaves is much more similar. Both model configurations simulate large increases in the intensity, duration, and frequency of heatwaves by 2100 under RCP8.5. Present-day conditions that occur on 3–6 heatwave days per year will be normal by 2100, occurring on 150–180 days per year. The future change in dry heatwaves is similar in both climate model configurations, whereas the future change in humid heatwaves is 56% higher in intensity and 20% higher in frequency in the convective-scale model. Dry heatwaves are associated with low rainfall, reduced cloud, increased surface shortwave heating, and increased sensible heat flux. In contrast, humid heatwaves are predominately controlled by increased humidity, rainfall, cloud, longwave heating, and evaporation, with dry-bulb temperature gaining more significance in the most humid regions. Approximately one-third (32%) of humid heatwaves commence on wet days. Moist processes are known to be better represented in convective-scale models. Climate models with parameterized convection, such as those in CMIP, may underestimate the future change in humid heatwaves, which heightens the need for mitigation and adaptation strategies and indicates there may be less time available to implement them to avoid future catastrophic heat stress conditions than previously thought.

Significance Statement

Temperatures are higher in dry heatwaves, but humid heatwaves can be more dangerous, as the ability to cool by sweating is limited. We found that dry heatwaves are caused by decreased cloud, allowing the sun to heat the surface, whereas humid heatwaves are caused by increased cloud, rainfall, and evaporation from the surface. We found that a state-of-the-art very high-resolution climate model predicts a larger future change in humid heatwaves compared to a more traditional global climate model. Previous estimates of the prevalence of humid heatwaves in the future may therefore be underestimated. If we do not cut emissions of greenhouse gases, present-day African heatwave conditions could be experienced on up to half of all days of the year by 2100.

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Catherine A. Senior
,
John H. Marsham
,
Ségolène Berthou
,
Laura E. Burgin
,
Sonja S. Folwell
,
Elizabeth J. Kendon
,
Cornelia M. Klein
,
Richard G. Jones
,
Neha Mittal
,
David P. Rowell
,
Lorenzo Tomassini
,
Théo Vischel
,
Bernd Becker
,
Cathryn E. Birch
,
Julia Crook
,
Andrew J. Dougill
,
Declan L. Finney
,
Richard J. Graham
,
Neil C. G. Hart
,
Christopher D. Jack
,
Lawrence S. Jackson
,
Rachel James
,
Bettina Koelle
,
Herbert Misiani
,
Brenda Mwalukanga
,
Douglas J. Parker
,
Rachel A. Stratton
,
Christopher M. Taylor
,
Simon O. Tucker
,
Caroline M. Wainwright
,
Richard Washington
, and
Martin R. Willet

Abstract

Pan-Africa convection-permitting regional climate model simulations have been performed to study the impact of high resolution and the explicit representation of atmospheric moist convection on the present and future climate of Africa. These unique simulations have allowed European and African climate scientists to understand the critical role that the representation of convection plays in the ability of a contemporary climate model to capture climate and climate change, including many impact-relevant aspects such as rainfall variability and extremes. There are significant improvements in not only the small-scale characteristics of rainfall such as its intensity and diurnal cycle, but also in the large-scale circulation. Similarly, effects of explicit convection affect not only projected changes in rainfall extremes, dry spells, and high winds, but also continental-scale circulation and regional rainfall accumulations. The physics underlying such differences are in many cases expected to be relevant to all models that use parameterized convection. In some cases physical understanding of small-scale change means that we can provide regional decision-makers with new scales of information across a range of sectors. We demonstrate the potential value of these simulations both as scientific tools to increase climate process understanding and, when used with other models, for direct user applications. We describe how these ground-breaking simulations have been achieved under the U.K. Government’s Future Climate for Africa Programme. We anticipate a growing number of such simulations, which we advocate should become a routine component of climate projection, and encourage international coordination of such computationally and human-resource expensive simulations as effectively as possible.

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