Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New study of storm generation could improve rainfall prediction in West Africa

Date:
June 13, 2011
Source:
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Summary:
A new study of how storms are generated could improve rainfall prediction in dry regions of Africa, where drought and short growing seasons are common. A team of scientists from the UK, France and Australia used satellite observations of the Sahel region of West Africa to demonstrate that brief changes in soil moisture over areas of just tens of kilometers can affect storm generation.

A new study of how storms are generated could improve rainfall prediction in dry regions of Africa, where drought and short growing seasons are common.

A team of scientists from the UK, France and Australia used satellite observations of the Sahel region of West Africa to demonstrate that brief changes in soil moisture over areas of just tens of kilometres can affect storm generation. The results are published online in Nature Geoscience on 12 June 2011.

The monsoon can arrive abruptly in the Sahel and the relative timing of planting and the starts of the wet season can mean the difference between a good crop and no crop at all. Better predictive modelling could make a huge difference to the people for whom the rains can be a matter of life or death.

The researchers used high-resolution satellite images -- taken every 15 minutes at a scale of a few kilometres -- to study storm generation on every day of the 2006-2010 wet seasons. They analysed 3765 storms across a region of around 2.5 million km, to see how often, when and where convection (cloud formation) was triggered.

Lead author Dr Chris Taylor from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Rainfall is difficult to predict, particularly in regions such as the Sahel where huge storms can grow from nothing in a matter of hours. We found that areas with contrasting soil moisture play an important role in the creation of new storms, a factor not accounted for in current climate models. Our study shows that this effect is important for typically 1 in 8 storms, in a region particularly prone to droughts and associated crop failures."

The study concludes that rain storms are twice as likely to form over strong gradients in soil moisture compared with uniform soil-moisture conditions.

Dr Taylor added, "By exploiting data from satellites, we hope to be able to improve model predictions of both weather and future climate."

Co-author Dr Phil Harris, also from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, "Because this dataset is much larger than those from previous studies and covers several years we're much more confident of the results. Now that we can quantify this process, and give the climate models the right conditions to work with, they are more likely to initiate the storms in the right places."

The research was carried out by scientists from Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK, CNRM in France and Macquarie University in Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher M. Taylor, Amanda Gounou, Franηoise Guichard, Phil P. Harris, Richard J. Ellis, Fleur Couvreux, Martin De Kauwe. Frequency of Sahelian storm initiation enhanced over mesoscale soil-moisture patterns. Nature Geoscience, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1173

Cite This Page:

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. "New study of storm generation could improve rainfall prediction in West Africa." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613012803.htm>.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. (2011, June 13). New study of storm generation could improve rainfall prediction in West Africa. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613012803.htm
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. "New study of storm generation could improve rainfall prediction in West Africa." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613012803.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins