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Potential climate effect of mineral aerosols over West Africa: Part II—contribution of dust and land cover to future climate change

Climate Dynamics April 2018, Volume 50, Issue 7–8, pp 2335–2353

Mineral dust aerosols are an essential component of climate over West Africa, however, little work has been performed to investigate their contributions to potential climate change. A set of regional climate model experiments with and without mineral dust processes and land cover changes is performed to evaluate their climatic effects under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 for two global climate models. Results suggest surface warming to be in the range of 4–8 °C by the end of the century (2081–2100) over West Africa with respect to the present day (1981–2000).

The presence of mineral dusts dampens the warming by 0.1–1 °C in all seasons. Accounting for changes in land cover enhances the warming over the north of Sahel and dampens it to the south in spring and summer; however, the magnitudes are smaller than those resulting from dusts. Overall dust loadings are projected to increase, with the greatest increase occurring over the Sahara and Sahel in summer.

Accounting for land cover changes tends to reduce dust loadings over the southern Sahel. Future precipitation is projected to decrease by 5–40 % in the western Sahara and Sahel and increase by 10–150 % over the eastern Sahel and Guinea Coast in JJA. A dipole pattern of future precipitation changes is attributed to dust effects, with decrease in the north by 5–20 % and increase by 5–20 % in the south. Future changes in land cover result in a noisy non-significant response with a tendency for slight wetting in MAM, JJA, and SON and drying in DJF.