Sources of Moisture for Rainfall in West Africa

Title Sources of Moisture for Rainfall in West Africa
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 1996
Authors Gong, C. L. & Eltahir, E. A. B.
Volume 32
Date Published 1996
Keywords west africa

The objective of this study is to identify the sources of moisture for rainfall in west Africa. A model of precipitation recycling is developed and applied to the region of west Africa to obtain quantitative estimates of the moisture contributed by local evaporation as well as the moisture contributed by the zonal and meridional fluxes from the surrounding regions. We estimated the recycling ratio for the entire region by specifying three subregions where evaporation is treated as the source of moisture: west Africa, central Africa, and the tropical Atlantic Ocean. We find that evaporation from the tropical Atlantic Ocean, west Africa, and central Africa contribute about 23, 27, and 17% of rainfall in west Africa, respectively. Moisture fluxes from the tropical Atlantic are almost in phase with rainfall in west Africa. However, we find that moisture supply from central Africa is strongly regulated and limited by the westerly flow associated with the monsoon circulation. Hence the large-scale monsoon circulation is not only the main forcing of rainfall over west Africa, but the dynamics of this circulation exert significant control on where the moisture comes from.

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