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Uncertainty in simulating twentieth century West African precipitation trends: the role of anthropogenic aerosol emissions
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  • Paul-Arthur Monerie,
  • Andrea J. Dittus,
  • Laura J. Wilcox,
  • Andrew George Turner
Paul-Arthur Monerie
CERFACS (Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique)

Corresponding Author:p.monerie@reading.ac.uk

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Andrea J. Dittus
University of Reading
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Laura J. Wilcox
University of Reading
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Andrew George Turner
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Anthropogenic aerosol emissions from North America and Europe have strong effects on the decadal variability of the West African monsoon. Anthropogenic aerosol effective radiative forcing is model dependent, but the impact of such uncertainty on the simulation of long-term West African monsoon variability is unknown. We use an ensemble of simulations with HadGEM3-GC3.1 that span the most recent estimates in simulated anthropogenic aerosol effective radiative forcing. We show that uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing leads to significant uncertainty at simulating multi-decadal trends in West African precipitation. At the large scale, larger forcing leads to a larger decrease in the interhemispheric temperature gradients, in temperature over both the North Atlantic Ocean and northern Sahara. There are also differences in dynamic changes specific to the West African monsoon (locations of the Saharan heat low and African Easterly Jet, of the strength of the west African westerly jet, and of African Easterly Waves activity). We also assess effects on monsoon precipitation characteristics and temperature. We show that larger aerosol forcing results in a decrease of the number of rainy days and of heavy and extreme precipitation events and warm spells. However, simulated changes in onset and demise dates does not appear to be sensitive to the magnitude of aerosol forcing. Our results demonstrate the importance of reducing the uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol forcing for understanding and predicting multi-decadal variability in the West African monsoon.