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West African Monsoon
Jon Lebkowsky, 11 Jul 05

africasat.jpgScientists know more and more about climate change (check out the facts and links at RealClimate blog for a consistent updates on this body of knowledge). However, according to Dr. Doug Parker, there's a lot we don't know about the volatile West African climate, and he

believes that predictive global climate models will be 'useless' until detailed studies into the region’s tropospheric composition (the area from which all weather occurs) are conducted. "We can't claim to be able to accurately predict global climate change if one huge area is systematically wrong," said the earth and environment senior lecturer. (Innovations Report)
65 international institutions have joined forces in forming the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA), a multidisciplinary approach to a better understanding of the complex interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere that ultimately determine the nature of the WAM.

The word "monsoon" is derived from the Arabic "mausim," for "season" (or "season of winds"), originally used to describe seasonal shifts in prevailing winds in the area around the Indian Ocean. Surface monsoonal winds are caused by differences in the temperature of land and ocean. The West African Monsoon is complex, variable, and hard to predict, and as the population of West Africa increases, so does its vulnerability to climate variations. The AMMA project has three aims, described in its International Science Plan (pdf):

  1. To improve our understanding of the WAM and its influence on the physical, chemical and biological environment regionally and globally.
  2. To provide the underpinning science that relates variability of the WAM to issues of health, water resources, food security and demography for West African nations and defining and implementing relevant monitoring and prediction strategies.
  3. To ensure that the multidisciplinary research carried out in AMMA is effectively integrated with prediction and decision making activity.
The plan also notes that "West Africa is also an important source region for natural and anthropogenic emissions of precursors to key greenhouse forcing agents (e.g. ozone, aerosols)," so the project is has global as well as local relevance.

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Very interesting satalite images, thanks. mh

Posted by: Mike N Humphrey on 11 Jul 05

where can I get a large version of that image?

Posted by: Peter Sinclair on 11 Jul 05



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