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  • Author or Editor: Nathaniel W. Chaney x
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Nathaniel W. Chaney, Justin Sheffield, Gabriele Villarini, and Eric F. Wood


Assessing changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological events and their impact on water resources, agriculture, and infrastructure is necessary to adequately prepare and adapt to future change. This is a challenge in data-sparse regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where a lack of high-density and temporally consistent long-term in situ measurements complicates the analysis. To address this, a temporally homogenous and high-temporal- and high-spatial-resolution meteorological dataset is developed over sub-Saharan Africa (5°S–25°N), covering the time period between 1979 and 2005. It is developed by spatially downscaling the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalysis to a 0.1° spatial resolution, detecting and correcting for temporal inhomogeneities, and by removing random errors and biases by assimilating quality-controlled and gap-filled Global Summary of the Day (GSOD) in situ measurements. The dataset is then used to determine the statistical significance and magnitude of changes in climate extremes between 1979 and 2005. The results suggest a shift in the distribution of daily maximum and minimum temperatures toward a warmer mean with a faster increase in warm than cold events. Changes in the mean annual precipitation and heavy rainfall events are significant only in regions affected by the Sahel droughts of the 1970s and 1980s.

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Xing Yuan, Eric F. Wood, Nathaniel W. Chaney, Justin Sheffield, Jonghun Kam, Miaoling Liang, and Kaiyu Guan


As a natural phenomenon, drought can have devastating impacts on local populations through food insecurity and famine in the developing world, such as in Africa. In this study, the authors have established a seasonal hydrologic forecasting system for Africa. The system is based on the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), and the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model. With a set of 26-yr (1982–2007) seasonal hydrologic hindcasts run at 0.25°, the probabilistic drought forecasts are validated using the 6-month Standard Precipitation Index (SPI6) and soil moisture percentile as indices. In terms of Brier skill score (BSS), the system is more skillful than climatology out to 3–5 months, except for the forecast of soil moisture drought over central Africa. The spatial distribution of BSS, which is similar to the pattern of persistency, shows more heterogeneity for soil moisture than the SPI6. Drought forecasts based on SPI6 are generally more skillful than for soil moisture, and their differences originate from the skill attribute of resolution rather than reliability. However, the soil moisture drought forecast can be more skillful than SPI6 at the beginning of the rainy season over western and southern Africa because of the strong annual cycle. Singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of African precipitation and global SSTs indicates that CFSv2 reproduces the ENSO dominance on rainy season drought forecasts quite well, but the corresponding SVD mode from observations and CFSv2 only account for less than 24% and 31% of the covariance, respectively, suggesting that further understanding of drought drivers, including regional atmospheric dynamics and land–atmosphere coupling, is necessary.

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