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Seasonal variability and predictability of monsoon precipitation in Southern Africa
  • Matthew F Horan,
  • Fred Kucharski,
  • Moetasim Ashfaq
Matthew F Horan
University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Corresponding Author:mhoran@vols.utk.edu

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Fred Kucharski
The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics
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Moetasim Ashfaq
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE)
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Rainfed agriculture is the mainstay of economies across Southern Africa, where most precipitation is received during the austral summer monsoon. Despite that, seasonal precipitation predictability in Southern Africa is less explored. Here we use three natural climate forcings, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), and the Indian Ocean Precipitation Dipole (IOPD) – the dominant precipitation variability mode – to construct an empirical model that exhibits significant skill over Southern Africa during monsoon in explaining precipitation variability and in forecasting it with a five-month lead. While most explained precipitation variance (50–75%) comes from contemporaneous IOD and IOPD, preconditioning all three forcings is key in predicting monsoon precipitation with a zero to five-month lead. Seasonal forecasting systems accurately represent the interplay of the three forcings but show varying skills in representing their teleconnection over Southern Africa. This makes them less effective at predicting monsoon precipitation than the empirical model.
08 Aug 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
09 Aug 2023Published in ESS Open Archive