Fewer rainy days and more extreme rainfall by the end of the century in Southern Africa

15. June 2017 climate change 45
Fewer rainy days and more extreme rainfall by the end of the century in Southern Africa

Benjamin Pohl, Clémence Macron and Paul-Arthur Monerie:

Future changes in the structure of daily rainfall, especially the number of rainy days and the intensity of extreme events, are likely to induce major impacts on rain-fed agriculture in the tropics. In Africa this issue is of primary importance, but the agreement between climate models to simulate such descriptors of rainfall is generally poor. Here, we show that the climate models used for the fifth assessment report of IPCC simulate a marked decrease in the number of rainy days, together with a strong increase in the rainfall amounts during the 1% wettest days, by the end of the 21st century over Southern Africa. These combined changes lead to an apparent stability of seasonal totals, but are likely to alter the quality of the rainy season. These evolutions are due to the superposition of slowly-changing moisture fluxes, mainly supported by increased hygrometric capacity associated with global warming, and unchanged short-term atmospheric configurations in which extreme events are embedded. This could cause enhanced floods or droughts, stronger soil erosion and nutriment loss, questioning the sustainability of food security for the 300 million people currently living in Africa south of the Equator.

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