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Atmospheric and oceanic conditions associated with early and late onset for eastern Africa short rains

Gudoshava, M., Wainwright, C. ORCID:, Hirons, L. ORCID:, Endris, H. S., Segele, Z. T., Woolnough, S. ORCID:, Atheru, Z. and Artan, G. (2022) Atmospheric and oceanic conditions associated with early and late onset for eastern Africa short rains. International Journal of Climatology, 42 (12). pp. 6562-6578. ISSN 0899-8418

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/joc.7627


Timing of the rainy season is essential for a number of climate sensitive sectors over Eastern Africa. This is particularly true for the agricultural sector, where most activities depend on both the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall throughout the season. Using a combination of observational and reanalysis datasets, the present study investigates the atmospheric and oceanic conditions associated with early and late onset for Eastern Africa short rains season (October to December). Our results indicate enhanced rainfall in October and November during years with early onset and rainfall deficit in years with late onset for the same months. Early onset years are found to be associated with warmer sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the western Indian Ocean, and an enhanced moisture flux and anomalous low-level flow into Eastern Africa from as early as the first dekad of September. The late onset years are characterised by cooler SSTs in the western Indian Ocean, anomalous westerly moisture flux and zonal flow limiting moisture supply to the region. The variability in onset date is separated into the interannual and decadal components, and the links with SSTs and low-level circulation over the Indian Ocean basin are examined separately for both timescales. Significant correlations are found between the interannual variability of the onset and the Indian Ocean dipole mode index. On decadal timescales the onset is shown to be partly driven by the variability of the SSTs over the Indian Ocean. Understanding the influence of these potentially predictable SST and moisture patterns on onset variability has huge potential to improve forecasts of the East African short rains. Improved prediction of the variability of the rainy season onset has huge implications for improving key strategic decisions and preparedness action in many sectors, including agriculture.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:104160
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons


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