Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 132, Issue 1–2, pp 437–450 | Cite as

Evaluation of rainfall simulations over West Africa in dynamically downscaled CMIP5 global circulation models

  • A.A Akinsanola
  • V.O Ajayi
  • A.T Adejare
  • O.E Adeyeri
  • I.E Gbode
  • K.O Ogunjobi
  • G Nikulin
  • A.T. Abolude
Original Paper


This study presents evaluation of the ability of Rossby Centre Regional Climate Model (RCA4) driven by nine global circulation models (GCMs), to skilfully reproduce the key features of rainfall climatology over West Africa for the period of 1980-2005. The seasonal climatology and annual cycle of the RCA4 simulations were assessed over three homogenous subregions of West Africa (Guinea coast, Savannah, and Sahel) and evaluated using observed precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP). Furthermore, the model output was evaluated using a wide range of statistical measures. The interseasonal and interannual variability of the RCA4 were further assessed over the subregions and the whole of the West Africa domain. Results indicate that the RCA4 captures the spatial and interseasonal rainfall pattern adequately but exhibits a weak performance over the Guinea coast. Findings from the interannual rainfall variability indicate that the model performance is better over the larger West Africa domain than the subregions. The largest difference across the RCA4 simulated annual rainfall was found in the Sahel. Result from the Mann–Kendall test showed no significant trend for the 1980–2005 period in annual rainfall either in GPCP observation data or in the model simulations over West Africa. In many aspects, the RCA4 simulation driven by the HadGEM2-ES perform best over the region. The use of the multimodel ensemble mean has resulted to the improved representation of rainfall characteristics over the study domain.



The authors appreciate WCRP and START for setting up and funding the CORDEX-Africa analysis initiative and the University of Cape Town for leading the training and analysis program. We are very grateful to regional downscaling groups who kindly shared the downscaled data used in this analysis. We are also grateful to the services that have operated the GPCP. The efforts of the anonymous reviewers are duly acknowledge.


  1. Abiodun BJ, Adeyewa ZD, Oguntunde PG, Salami AT, Ajayi VO (2012) Modeling the impacts of reforestation on future climate in West Africa. Theor Appl Climatol 110(1–2):77–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler RF, Huffman GJ, Chang A, Ferraro R, Xie P-P, Janowiak J, Rudolf B, Schneider U, Curtis S, Bolvin D, Gruber A, Susskind J, Arkin P, Nelkin E (2003) The version-2 Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) monthly precipitation analysis (1979–present). J Hydrometeorol 4:1147–1167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Afiesimama EA, Pal JS, Abiodun BJ, Gutowski WJ, Adedoyin A (2006) Simulation of west African monsoon using RegCM3 part I: model validation and interannual variability. Theor Appl Climatol 93:245–261Google Scholar
  4. Akinsanola AA, Ogunjobi KO (2015) Recent homogeneity analysis and long term spatio-temporal rainfall trends in Nigeria. Theor Appl Climatol. doi: 10.1007/s00704-015-1701-x Google Scholar
  5. Akinsanola AA, Ogunjobi KO, Gbode IE, Ajayi VO (2015) Assessing the capabilities of three regional climate models over CORDEX Africa in simulating west African summer monsoon precipitation. Adv Meteorol 2015:935431 . doi: 10.1155/2015/93543113pagesCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Akinsanola AA, Ogunjobi KO, Ajayi VO, Adefisan EA, Omotosho JA, Sanogo S (2016) Comparison of five gridded precipitation products at climatological scales over West Africa. Meteorol Atmos Phys. doi: 10.1007/s00703-016-0493-6 Google Scholar
  7. Christensen J, Christensen O (2007) A summary of the PRUDENCE model projections of changes in European climate by the end of this century. Clim Chang 81:7–30. doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9210-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen OB, Christensen JH, Machenhauer B, Botzet M (1998) Very high-resolution regional climate simulations over Scandinavia: present climate. J Clim 11:3204–3229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de la Casa A, Nasello O (2010) Breakpoints in annual rainfall trends in Córdoba. Argentina Atmos Res 95:419–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. de la Casa A, Nasello OB (2012) Low frequency oscillation of rainfall in Córdoba, Argentina, and its relation with solar cycles and cosmic rays. Atmos Res 113:140–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dee DP, Coauthors (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137:553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diallo I, Sylla MB, Camara M, Gaye AT (2012) Interannual variability of rainfall and circulation features over the Sahel based on multiple regional climate models simulations. Theor Appl Climatol. doi: 10.1007/s00704-012-0791-y Google Scholar
  13. Diallo I, Sylla MB, Camara M, Gaye AT (2013) Interannual variability of rainfall and circulation features over the Sahel based on multiple regional climate models simulations. Theor Appl Climatol 113(1–2):351–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Druyan LM, Feng J, Cook KH, Xue Y, Fulakeza M, Hagos SM, Konaré A, Moufouma-Okia W, Rowell DP, Vizy EK, Ibrah SS (2010) The WAMME regional model intercomparison study. Clim Dynam 35(1):175–192. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0676-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feser F, Rockel B, von Storch H, Winterfeldt J, Zahn M (2011) Regional climate models add value to global model data: a review and selected examples. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 92(9):1181–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fuhrer J, Smith P, Gobiet A (2014) Implications of climate change scenarios for agriculture in alpine regions—a case study in the Swiss Rhone catchment. Sci Total Environ 493:1232–1241. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.06.038 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gbobaniyi E, Sarr A, Sylla MB, Diallo I et al (2013) Climatology, annual cycle and interannual variability of precipitation and temperature in CORDEX simulations over West Africa. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.3834 Google Scholar
  18. Giorgi F, Jones C, Asrar G (2009) Addressing climate information needs at the regional level: the CORDEX framework. World Meteorol Organ (WMO) Bull 58(July):175–183Google Scholar
  19. IPCC-TGICA, (2007) General guidelines on the use of scenario data for climate impact and adaptation assessment (version 2). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Task Group on Data Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Assessment, 66 pp. [Available online at]
  20. Jacob D, Coauthors (2014) EURO-CORDEX: new high resolution climate change projections for European impact research. Reg Environ Chang 14:563–578. doi: 10.1007/s10113-013-0499-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jacob D, Bärring L, Christensen OB, Christensen JH, de Castro M, Déqué M, Giorgi F, Hagemann S, Lenderink G, Rockel B, Sanchez E, Schär C, Seneviratne SI, Somot S, van Ulden A, van den Hurk B (2007) An inter-comparison of regional climate models for Europe: model performance in present-day climate. Clim Chang 81:31–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kendall MG (1975) Rank correlation methods. Charles Graffin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim J, Waliser DE, Mattmann CA, Goodale CE, Hart AF, Zimdars PA, Crichton DJ, Jones C, Nikulin G, Hewitson B, Jack C, Lennard C, Favre A (2014) Evaluation of the CORDEX-Africa multi-RCM hindcast: systematic model errors. Clim Dyn:1189–1202. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1751-7
  24. Kjellström E, Abrahamsson R, Boberg P, Jernbäcker E, Karlberg M, Morel J, et al. (2014) Uppdatering av det klimatvetenskapliga kunskapsläget. Klimatologi 9. SMHI, SE-60176 Norrköping, Sweden. 65pp (in Swedish)Google Scholar
  25. Klutse NAB, Sylla MB, Diallo I, Sarr A, Dosio A, Diedhiou A, Kamga A, Lamptey B, Ali A, Gbobaniyi EO, Owusu K, Lennard C, Hewitson B, Nikulin G, Panitz H, Buchner M (2015) Daily characteristics of West African monsoon rainfall in CORDEX regional climate models. Theor Appl Climatol. doi: 10.1007/s00704-014-1352-3 Google Scholar
  26. Krishnakumar KN, Prasada Rao GSHV, Gopakumar CS (2009) Rainfall trends in twentieth century over Kerala. India Atmos Environ 43:1940–1944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Laprise R, Hernández-Díaz L, Tete K, Sushama L, Šeparovic’ L, Martynov A, Winger K, Valin M (2013) Climate projections over CORDEX Africa domain using the fifth-generation Canadian regional climate model (CRCM5). Clim Dynam 41:3219–3246. doi: 10.1007/s00382-012-1651-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica 13:245–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McKee TB, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. Preprints, 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, California, pp 179–184Google Scholar
  30. Nicholson SE (2003) Comments on “The south Indian convergence zone and interannual rainfall variability over south Africa” and the question of ENSO’s influence on Southern Africa. J Clim 6:1463–1466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nikulin G, Jones C, Giorgi F, Asrar G, Buchner M, Cerezo-Mota R, Christensen OB, Deque M, Fernandez J, Hansler A, van Meijgaard E, Samuelsson P, Sylla MB, Sushama L (2012) Precipitation climatology in an ensemble of CORDEX-Africa regional climate simulations. J Climate 25(18):6057–6078. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00375.1
  32. Omotosho JB, Abiodun BJ (2007) A numerical study of moisture build-up and rainfall over West Africa. Meteorol Appl 14:209–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Paeth H, Hall NM, Gaertner MA, Alonso MD, Moumouni S, Polcher J, Ruti PM, Fink AH, Gosset M, Lebel T, Gaye AT, Rowell DP, Moufouma-Okia W, Jacob D, Rockel B, Giorgi F, Rummukainen M (2011) Progress in regional downscaling of west African precipitation. Atmos Sci Lett 12(1):75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rummukainen M (2010) State-of-the-art with regional climate models. Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Climate Change 1:82–96. doi: 10.1002/wcc.8 Google Scholar
  35. Ruti PM, Williams JE, Hourdin F, Guichard F, Boone A, Van Velthoven P, Favot F, Musat I, Rummukainen M, Dominguez M, Gaertner MA, Lafore JP, Losada T, Rodriguez de Fonseca MB, Polcher J, Giorgi F, Xue Y, Bouarar I, Law K, Josse B, Barret B, Yang X, Mari C, Traore AK (2011) The West African climate system: a review of the AMMA model inter-comparison initiatives. Atmos Sci Lett 12:116–122. doi: 10.1002/asl.305 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Samuelsson P, Jones CG, Willén U, Ullerstig A, Gollvik S, Hansson U, Hansson U, Jansson C, Kjellströ E, Nikulin G, Wyser K (2011) The Rossby Centre regional climate model RCA3: model description and performance. Tellus A 63:4–23. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0870.2010.00478.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoffel M, Mendlik T, Schneuwly-Bollschweiler M, Gobiet A (2014) Possible impacts of climate change on debris-flow activity in the Swiss Alps. Clim Chang 122:141–155. doi: 10.1007/s10584-013-0993-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Strandberg G, Bärring L, Hansson U, Jansson C, Jones C, Kjellström E, Kolax M, Kupiainen M, Nikulin G, Samuelsson P et al (2014) CORDEX scenarios for Europe from the Rossby. Centre regional climate model RCA4; report meteorology and climatology no. 116. Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  39. Subash N, Singh SS, Priya N (2011) Variability of rainfall and effective onset and length of the monsoon season over a sub-humid climatic environment. Atmos Res 99:479–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sultan B, Janicot S (2000) Abrupt shift of the ITCZ over West Africa and intra-seasonal variability. Geophys Res Lett 27:3353–3356. doi: 10.1029/1999GL011285 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sylla M, Giorgi R, Ruti M, Calmanti S, Dell’Aquila A (2011) The impact of deep convection on the west African summer monsoon climate: a regional climate model sensitivity study. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137:1417–1430. doi: 10.1002/qj.853 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sylla MB, Diallo I, Pal JS, (2013) West African monsoon in state-of the-art regional climate models. In Tarhule A (ed) Climate variability—regional and thematic patternsGoogle Scholar
  43. Taylor KE, Stouffer RJ, Meehl GA (2012) An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull Am Meteor Soc 93:485–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Udo RK (1978) A comprehensive geography of West Africa. Heinemann Educational Books, London, pp 1–50Google Scholar
  45. van der Linden P, Mitchell J, Eds, (2009) ENSEMBLES: climate change and its impacts: summary of research and results from the ENSEMBLES project. Met Office Hadley Centre, 160 ppGoogle Scholar
  46. Xue Y, Lau K-M, Cook KH, Rowell DP, Boone A, Feng J, Konare A, De Sales F, Bruecher T, Dirmeyer P, Druyan LM, Fulakeza M, Guo Z, Hagos SM, Kim K-M, Kitoh A, Kumar V, Lonergan P, Pasqui M, Poccard-Leclercq I, Mahowald N, Moufouma-Okia W, Pegion P, Sanda IS, Schubert SD, Sealy A, Thiaw WM, Vintzileos A, Vizy EK, Williams S, Wu M-LC (2010) Intercomparison and analyses of the West African monsoon and its variability in the West African monsoon modelling and evaluation project (WAMME) first model intercomparison experiment. Clim Dyn 35:3–27. doi: 10.1007/s00382-010-0778-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xue Y, Janjic Z, Dudhia J, Vasic R, De Sales F (2014) A review on regional dynamical downscaling in intraseasonal to seasonal simulation/prediction and major factors that affect downscaling ability. Atmos Res 147–148:68–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Energy and EnvironmentCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongChina
  2. 2.Department of Meteorology and Climate ScienceFederal University of Technology AkureAkureNigeria
  3. 3.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden

Personalised recommendations