Friday, July 14, 2017

Impacts of climate change on hydro-meteorological drought over the Volta Basin, West Africa, by P. G. Oguntunde, B. J. Abiodun & G. Lischeid;

Global and Planetary Change, (online July 12, 2017),

Impacts of climate change on hydro-meteorological drought over the Volta Basin, West Africa

Philip G. Oguntunde, Batatunde J. Abiodun, and Gunnar Lischeid


We examined the past and future characteristics of drought over Volta River Basin.
We investigated the coupling between drought and streamflow with wavelets analysis.
A 2–3 month lead time was found between drought indices and stream flow.
Drought area extent is projected to increase by 24% to 34% in the future.
This study may guide policy on strategic and adaptive capacity building in the basin.


This study examines the characteristics of drought in the Volta River Basin (VRB), investigates the influence of drought on the streamflow, and projects the impacts of future climate change on the drought. A combination of observation data and regional climate simulations of past and future climates (1970–2013, 2046–2065, and 2081–2100) were analyzed for the study. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation and Evapotranspiration (SPEI) were used to characterize drought while the Standardized Runoff Index (SRI) were used to quantify runoff. Results of the study show that the historical pattern of drought is generally consistent with previous studies over the Basin and most part of West Africa. RCA ensemble medians (RMED) give realistic simulations of drought characteristics and area extent over the Basin and the sub-catchments in the past climate. Generally, an increase in drought intensity and spatial extent are projected over VRB for SPEI and SPI, but the magnitude of increase is higher with SPEI than with SPI. Drought frequency (events per decade) may be magnified by a factor of 1.2 (2046–2065) to 1.6 (2081–2100) compared to the present day episodes in the basin. The coupling between streamflow and drought episodes was very strong (P < 0.05) for the 1–16-year band before the 1970 but showed strong correlation all through the time series period for the 4–8-years band. Runoff was highly sensitive to precipitation in the VRB and a 2–3 month time lag was found between drought indices and streamflow in the Volta River Basin. Results of this study may guide policymakers in planning how to minimize the negative impacts of future climate change that could have consequences on agriculture, water resources and energy supply.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Catastrophic mesoscale convective system storms in the western Sahel now three times more likely

Climate change brings more Sahel storms

Climate change is upsetting rainfall patterns and the frequency of flooding in West Africa as it makes the region's Sahel storms three times likelier.

by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 7, 2017

– Climate change has already made a difference to life in the West African Sahel, the arid belt of land stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea which separates the Sahara desert from the African savanna. It has made catastrophic storms three times more frequent.

And, according to a new study in the journal Nature, Sahel storms are among the most powerful on the planet. In 2009, one vast downpour deposited 263 mm of rain over Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, claiming 8 lives, flooding half the city and forcing 150,000 people out of their homes.

Researchers believe the pattern of thunderstorms known as mesoscale convective systems will increase in frequency as global temperatures rise, as a consequence of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, in turn driven by worldwide use of fossil fuels as sources of energy.

Mesoscale convective systems are big, bad, and very cold columns of thunderous cloud: up to 16 km high, covering an area of 25,000 square kilometres, and with temperatures at the highest altitude as low as minus 40 °C.

Between 1986 and 2005, Burkina Faso registered floods at a rate of little more than one a year. In the 11 years between 2006 and 2016, it was hit by 55 flood events.

Repeated warnings

Climate scientists have been warning for three decades that global warming will be accompanied by an increase in “extreme” events: in particular drought, flood, heat wave, and tropical cyclone.

Global warming has already been observed in the Sahel, and the consequences have not necessarily been bad: overall, precipitation has increased, and farmers have benefited, although in a dryland region south of the Sahara where people have endured a 2,000-year history of periodic drought, famine remains a constant hazard.

And now, so do massive downpours of rain: the Sahel storms. British and French scientists examined 35 years of satellite data and the rain gauges in the region to identify a rise in extreme daily rainfall totals. They found 85% of extreme rainfall cases coincided with satellite records of a passing mesoscale convection system.

They also examined the pattern of temperatures over the region and found that although the annual average temperatures have risen, the so-called “wet season” temperatures have remained steady. That is, locally warmer conditions alone have not brought more rainfall.

“Global warming is expected to produce more intense storms, but we were shocked to see the speed of changes taking place in this region of Africa”

Instead, they blame man-made global warming which has changed wind and rain conditions, and this will go on strengthening during this century, “suggesting the Sahel will experience particularly marked increases in extreme rain,” they conclude.

“Global warming is expected to produce more intense storms, but we were shocked to see the speed of changes taking place in this region of Africa,” said Christopher Taylor, a meteorologist at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who led the study.

His co-author Douglas Parker, professor of meteorology at the University of Leeds in the UK, said: “African storms are highly organised meteorological engines, whose currents extract water from the air to produce torrential rain.

“We have seen these engines becoming more efficient over recent decades, with resulting increases in the frequency of hazardous events.”

About Me

My photo
If you want to follow new posts on twitter, my user name is TenneyNaumer. Blog on climate science: Climate Change -- The Next Generation, at