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How well does MPAS-atmosphere simulate the characteristics of the Botswana High?


The Botswana High is a prominent mid-tropospheric system that modulates rainfall over subtropical southern Africa, but the capability of a global climate model (GCM) to reproduce it remains unknown. This study examines the capability of a GCM with quasi-uniform resolution (Model Prediction Across Scales, hereafter MPAS) in simulating the characteristics of the Botswana High. The MPAS is applied to simulate the global climate at 240 km quasi-uniform resolution over the globe for the period 1980–2010. The model results are validated against gridded observation dataset (Climate Research Unit, CRU), satellite dataset (Global Precipitation Climatology Project, GPCP), and reanalysis datasets (Climate Forecast System Reanalysis, CFSR; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA; and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts version 5, ERA5). In general, MPAS replicates all the essential features in the climatology of temperature, rainfall, 500 hPa geopotential height and vertical motion over southern Africa, reproduces the spatial and temporal variation of the Botswana High, and captures the influence of the Botswana High on droughts and deep convections over the sub-continent. In addition, the model reproduces well the anomalies in vertical motion over subtropical southern Africa during +ve and −ve phases of the Botswana High. However, the model struggles to reproduce the precipitation pattern associated with the positive and negative modes of the Botswana High. The results of this study have an application in understanding the characteristics of the Botswana High and in improving MPAS for seasonal forecasting over southern Africa.

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Availability of data and material

All the data and materials used in this study can be freely made available on request.

Code availability

All the codes used in the study can be made available on request.


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Computing facility was provided by the Centre for High-Performance Computing (CHPC, South Africa). We thank Phillip Mukwhena from the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG), University of Cape Town for his help in installing the MPAS model on CHPC.


This project was supported with grants from the University of Cape Town PhD Staff Bursary.

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Both authors contributed to the study conception and methodology. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by the first author under the supervision of the second author. The first draft of the manuscript was written by the first author and the second author was responsible for reviewing and editing previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Molulaqhooa L. Maoyi.

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Maoyi, M.L., Abiodun, B.J. How well does MPAS-atmosphere simulate the characteristics of the Botswana High?. Clim Dyn 57, 2109–2128 (2021).

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  • MPAS-atmosphere
  • Botswana High
  • Southern Africa
  • Drought
  • ENSO
  • Variable-resolution models