Climate Dynamics

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 1083-1105

First online:

Regional climate modelling of the 2006 West African monsoon: sensitivity to convection and planetary boundary layer parameterisation using WRF

  • Emmanouil FlaounasAffiliated withUPMC, CNRS/INSU, LATMOS/IPSL Email author 
  • , Sophie BastinAffiliated withUPMC, CNRS/INSU, LATMOS/IPSL
  • , Serge JanicotAffiliated withUPMC, IRD, LOCEAN-IPSL

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Regional climate model (RCM) is a valuable scientific tool to address the mechanisms of regional atmospheric systems such as the West African monsoon (WAM). This study aims to improve our understanding of the impact of some physical schemes of RCM on the WAM representation. The weather research and forecasting model has been used by performing six simulations of the 2006 summer WAM season. These simulations use all combinations of three convective parameterization schemes (CPSs) and two planetary boundary layer schemes (PBLSs). By comparing the simulations to a large set of observations and analysis products, we have evaluated the ability of these RCM parameterizations to reproduce different aspects of the regional atmospheric circulation of the WAM. This study focuses in particular on the WAM onset and the rainfall variability simulated over this domain. According to the different parameterizations tested, the PBLSs seem to have the strongest effect on temperature, humidity vertical distribution and rainfall amount. On the other hand, dynamics and precipitation variability are strongly influenced by CPSs. In particular, the Mellor–Yamada–Janjic PBLS attributes more realistic values of humidity and temperature. Combined with the Kain–Fritsch CPS, the WAM onset is well represented. The different schemes combination tested also reveal the role of different regional climate features on WAM dynamics, namely the low level circulation, the land–atmosphere interactions and the meridional temperature gradient between the Guinean coast and the Sahel.


Regional modelling AMMA field experiment in 2006 Physics parameterization schemes West African monsoon onset