Ocean and SST Forcings

There is still controversy over how SST and coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomena affect West Africa's climate. ENSO is known to influence the global summer monsoon system from China to West Africa through the Walker and Hadley circulations (Quan et al. 2003), but teleconnections with West African rainfall are less clear cut than for other regions of Africa (Nicholson and Kim 1997). More research on the modulating role of Atlantic SST variability (Camberlin et al. 2001; Janicot and Harzallah 1998) could help address the lack of consensus over ENSO's influence, drawn from apparent contradictory findings obtained over different timescales (Rowell 2001; Mason and Goddard 2001). There is growing agreement that Sahelian drought is not associated with a unique SST anomaly pattern, and that it results from the combined influences of the global SST anomaly field and interconnected individual oceanic contribution patterns (Folland et al. 1986; Giannini et al. 2003).

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