Delayed Seasonal Cycle and African Monsoon in a Warmer Climate

Biasutti, Michela
Sobel, Adam H.
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Increasing greenhouse gases will change many aspects of the Earth's climate, from its annual mean to the frequency of extremes such as heat waves and droughts. Here we report that the current generation of climate models predicts a delay in the seasonal cycle of global rainfall and ocean temperature in response to increasing greenhouse gases, with important implications for the regional monsoons. In particular, the rainy season of the semi-arid African Sahel is projected to start later and become shorter: an undesirable change for local rainfed agriculture and pastoralism. Previous work has highlighted the uncertainty in this region's response to anthropogenic global warming: summer rainfall is predicted either to decrease or increase by up to 30% depending which model is used. The robust agreement across models on the seasonal distribution of rainfall changes signifies that the onset date and length of the rainy season should be more predictable than annual mean anomalies.
Comment: 3 figures + 4 supplementary figures
Physics - Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics