Simulated changes in the relationship between tropical ocean temperatures and the western African monsoon during the mid-Holocene

Yan Zhao*, Pascale Braconnot, S. P. Harrison, P. Yiou, O. Marti

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Results from nine coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations have been used to investigate changes in the relationship between the variability of monsoon precipitation over western Africa and tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) between the mid-Holocene and the present day. Although the influence of tropical SSTs on the African monsoon is generally overestimated in the control simulations, the models reproduce aspects of the observed modes of variability. Thus, most models reproduce the observed negative correlation between western Sahelian precipitation and SST anomalies in the eastern tropical Pacific, and many of them capture the positive correlation between SST anomalies in the eastern tropical Atlantic and precipitation over the Guinea coastal region. Although the response of individual model to the change in orbital forcing between 6 ka and present differs somewhat, eight of the models show that the strength of the teleconnection between SSTs in the eastern tropical Pacific and Sahelian precipitation is weaker in the mid-Holocene. Some of the models imply that this weakening was associated with a shift towards longer time periods (from 3-5 years in the control simulations toward 4-10 years in the mid-Holocene simulations). The simulated reduction in the teleconnection between eastern tropical Pacific SSTs and Sahelian precipitation appears to be primarily related to a reduction in the atmospheric circulation bridge between the Pacific and West Africa but, depending on the model, other mechanisms such as increased importance of other modes of tropical ocean variability or increased local recycling of monsoonal precipitation can also play a role.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)533-551
    Number of pages19
    JournalClimate Dynamics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


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