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An observation-based estimate of the strength of rainfall-vegetation interactions in the Sahel.

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posted on 2007-11-19, 15:39 authored by Sietse O. Los, Graham P. Weedon, P. R. J. North, Jörg Kaduk, C. M. Taylor, P. M. Cox
Over the course of the twentieth century the African Sahel experienced large variations in annual precipitation; including the wet period during the 1950s and 1960s and the long-term drought during the 1970s and 1980s. Feedbacks between the land surface and atmosphere can affect rainfall variability at monthly, annual and decadal time scales. However, the strength of the coupling between the land surface and precipitation is still highly uncertain, with climate-model derived estimates differing by an order of magnitude. Here a statistical model of vegetation greenness is used to estimate the vegetation-rainfall coupling strength in the Sahel, based on monthly satellite-derived vegetation index and meteorological data. Evidence is found for a positive feedback between vegetation and rainfall at the monthly time scale, and for a vegetation memory operating at the annual time scale. These vegetation-rainfall interactions increase the interannual variation in Sahelian precipitation; accounting for as much as 30% of the variability in annual precipitation in some hot spot regions between 15° and 20°N.

History

Citation

Geophysical Research Letters, 2006, 33 (16), pp.L16402

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Geophysical Research Letters

Publisher

American Geophysical Union

issn

0094-8276

eissn

1944-8007

Copyright date

2006

Available date

2007-11-19

Publisher version

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006GL027065/abstract

Language

en

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